Don Thompson was appointed to the Board of Trustees on July 1, 2009. He is the CEO of Cleveland Avenue, an investment group and accelerator that focuses on building new food, beverage, and restaurant concepts, which he founded in early 2017.
Thompson began his career at Northrop Corporation in 1984 and went on to a 25-year career with McDonald’s Corporation, where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer from 2012-2015. He joined McDonald’s in 1990 as an electrical engineer and later held a variety of key leadership positions within the company, including regional vice president, division president and chief operating officer, president of McDonald's USA, and president and COO of McDonald's Corporation. Thompson helped drive business results and global strategic innovation across the McDonald’s organization.
In addition to serving on the Purdue University Board of Trustees, Thompson serves on the boards of directors for Beyond Meat, a vegan, meat-alternative company, and Royal Caribbean Cruises, and he is a member of the DocuSign advisory board. In his native Chicago, he serves on the boards of directors for Northern Trust Corporation, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education. Thompson is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Commercial and Economic Clubs of Chicago, Business Council, World Business Chicago, and the Arthur M. Brazier Foundation.
Thompson has been recognized for his leadership and passion by the Illinois Holocaust Museum (2012 Humanitarian Award), the Executive Leadership Council (2010 Corporate Award), the Trumpet Foundation (2008 Corporate Executive Award) and Black Enterprise (2007 Corporate Executive of the Year).
Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1984. He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate in Science degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York.