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Woodrow Wilson Center to Honor George Cohon and Mikhail Piotrovsky at the 2009 Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, October 1, 2009, George A. Cohon, Founder, McDonald's Canada/McDonald's Russia and Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, Director, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia will be honored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution. Cohon will receive the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, and Piotrovsky will receive the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner to benefit the Center's Kennan Institute. The dinner will be held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner was established through a generous donation from Kathryn W. Davis and her family, recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2006, and is intended to raise public awareness of individuals demonstrating outstanding and enlightened corporate citizenship and public service in connection with the U.S.-Russian relationship.

George Cohon, the Chicago-born founder of McDonald's Canada, introduced a Soviet delegation to McDonald's during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. That encounter sparked a fourteen-year odyssey that culminated in the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in Moscow in 1990. In the waning days of the Cold War the remarkably successful launch of a North American icon in the heart of Soviet Russia was popularized as "Burger Diplomacy." Today, McDonald's Russia now boasts more than 220 restaurants in over 50 cities and has served more than 2 billion customers in Russia. With more than 24,500 Russians employed at restaurants, processing plants, and corporate offices, and more than 100,000 Russians employed by suppliers, McDonald's Russia was named Russia's Best Employer in 2006 by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Best Employer in Central Eastern Europe from 2007-2009 by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company. Cohon also established Ronald McDonald House Charities in Russia in 1995, which has become a vital source of aid and comfort to children with special needs and their families.

In 1992, Mikhail Piotrovsky followed in the footsteps of his father to become director of the world-renowned State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. His decisive leadership has guided the museum through times of economic difficulty and opportunities for expansion with equal skill. His total commitment to cultural diplomacy with the United States includes expanding the museum to include more American artwork and hosting several exhibitions in recent years by American artists. He has been instrumental in providing materials for U.S. exhibitions, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science's exhibit on Genghis Khan, that are educating American citizens about Eurasian cultural heritage. Finally, his work with the Hermitage Museum Foundation helps to deepen cultural ties between the museum and the American people. Although he has received awards and recognitions from many countries around the world, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service will be the first major distinction he will receive in the United States.

When: Thursday, October 1, 2009; 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Mayflower Hotel; 1127 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.; Washington, D.C.

Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship
George A. Cohon, Founder - McDonald's Canada/McDonald's Russia

Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service
Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, Director, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Honorary Chairmen
The Honorable Sergey I. Kislyak
Dr. James H. Billington

Neville Isdell
Ian Hague

Vice Chairman
Herbert Lotman

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, established by the U.S. Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the living, national memorial to the United States' 28th president. The Center is one of three American institutions (along with the National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) created by congressional statute to perform a national mission within the Smithsonian Institution and is governed by its own independent Board of Trustees appointed by the U.S. President.

A nonpartisan institution supported by public and private funds, the Center explores national and global issues through free, open, and informed dialogue. The Honorable Joseph B. Gildenhorn is chairman of the Board of Trustees, and previously served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland (1983–1993). Lee H. Hamilton, president and director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, served as a member of Congress for 34 years and provided service as vice chairman of the independent 9/11 Commission. He also served as co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group with former Secretary of State James Baker.

The Kennan Institute bridges the divide between the world of ideas and the world of public affairs by bringing scholars and governmental specialists together to discuss political, social, and economic issues affecting Russia and other successor states to the Soviet Union, seeking always to place these issues within their historical context.

Seats are $500 per person ($250 government/nonprofit). Sponsorships begin at $10,000. Dress is business attire. To register, or for information on sponsoring a table at the dinner, please contact Ms. Elizabeth Conatser at (202) 526-1984 or by email at: (

Related Program

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange.  Read more