There’s a lot more to C-suite executive Don Thompson—the 2007 Black Enterprise Executive of the Year who gave B.E. an exclusive in-person interview after retiring from McDonald’s in 2015—than you might think.
10 Things You Need to Know About Former McDonald’s President and CEO Don Thompson
- He and his wife, Liz Thompson, recently created a $1 million endowment for Purdue University’s College of Engineering, according to a statement released by the college; $900,000 will go toward scholarships for underrepresented engineering students, and the rest will go to the Minority Engineering Program, or MEP.
- Thompson and his wife graduated from Purdue and both majored in electrical engineering.
- Thompson has been a Purdue trustee since 2009.
- Don and Liz met through MEP.
- Their gift to the college will help to ensure that MEP can continue to support students of color pursuing engineering at Purdue. Other colleges have adopted the MEP model, according to the statement.
- The Thompsons’ gift will support MEP programs like its Engineering Academic Boot Camp, designed to support the transition of underrepresented students to Purdue campus life.
- The Thompsons lead Cleveland Avenue, a privately held venture capital firm that invests in “innovative food, beverage, and restaurant concepts and emerging brands.”
- The Thompsons also head their own foundation, the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education. Don is CEO and Liz is president.
- Don worked for Northrop Grumman Corp. before going to McDonald’s, where he worked for 25 years, the last three as president and CEO.
- He has received a number of honors, including a Humanitarian Award from the Illinois Holocaust Museum in 2012.
“Purdue University, and specifically the Minority Engineering Program, opened doors of opportunity for Liz and me,” Don Thompson is quoted as saying in the statement. “Those doors, and God’s grace, ultimately led to successful careers that yielded economic opportunities to enable us to do what we’re doing today. Not only did we meet at Purdue through the program, but MEP helped shape our grit and perseverance—first through the summer engineering camps and then through the support it offered in response to academically challenging courses. At every step, they were there for us and now we want to pay it forward.”
Learn more at the Purdue website.