Don Thompson made history this week as he was named McDonald’s next Chief Operating Officer. He is the first African American CEO of the popular fast food chain and has also become one of the few African Americans to lead a fortune 500 Company. When his title becomes effective in July of 2012, he will be the sixth active African-American CEO at a Fortune 500 company.

Thompson is replacing Jim Skinner, who is retiring after eight years.

Mr. Thompson’s relationship with McDonalds began in 1990 as an electrical engineer. Since then he held many different leadership positions, which include U.S. Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Division President. In 2008, he became the President and COO of McDonalds, directing global strategy and operations for more than 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries. Thompson is also the man behind the popular Snack Wrap menu item, as well as the expansion of the McCafe initiative

Thompson attended Purdue University and received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York

Along with his successful business career, Thompson serves on the board of directors for the Exelon Corporation and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is also one of Purdue University's trustees and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council. 

Due to his clear leadership trends, in 2007 he was named Thompson Corporate Executive of the Year. In 2008, he received the Corporate Executive award from the Trumpet foundation and in 2009 he received the Presidential Inspiration award from his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.

Jim Skinner supports Thompson’s soon to be positions and says, “Don Thompson is well prepared for the CEO role, and under his leadership, our company will continue to meet the needs of our 68 million customers around the world every day… with Don at the helm, I am extremely confident in the future of McDonald's."

The 48 year-old Thompson is married with two children and resides in Chicago.