Mike Donahue is currently the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer for LYFE Kitchen restaurants, an innovative and transformational brand revolutionizing the restaurant industry. As the Chief Brand Officer, he is responsible for building the initial brand essence, positioning and key messaging to the media, influencers, investors and all stakeholders. Prior to opening the first LYFE Kitchen Restaurant in Palo Alto, California in October of 2011, his efforts and ability to work with the media created over 1.2 billion media impressions, before the restaurant was built. Since that time, he’s managed the entire media and influencer strategy of LYFE Kitchen Restaurants garnering unprecedented positive coverage in front page stories in publications, blogs, and other media channels including Wired Magazine, the New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, and literally every industry publication and numerous national broadcast, print and local media placements.
Donahue is a former member of Senior Management at McDonald’s including serving as Chief Communications and External Relations Officer for McDonald’s USA. At McDonald’s he held several significant management positions all relative to building, enhancing and protecting Brand McDonald’s. For eleven years he led the McDonald’s Government Relations Department, in a dynamic era of increased government intervention at the state, local and federal levels. He was responsible for managing the External Relations functions including creating the first McDonald’s Social Responsibility department, managing Customer Relations, Communications, Public Relations and as the primary liaison with many of the third party organizations that would consistently target or criticize the company.
At McDonald’s he had both global and domestic responsibilities for building relationships with all key influencer groups from government, legislative and regulatory leaders, to NGO’s, trade associations, labor and worker’s groups, to environmental and animal rights activists. Donahue forged numerous positive working relationships with such non-traditional entities to improve McDonald’s brand, and anticipate and mitigate campaigns against the company for any number of social and public policy issues.
Throughout his career he has been recognized and widely regarded for his business and brand building acumen, public relations and corporate reputation management successes. In addition to his corporate work at both McDonald’s and 3M Corporation, he has driven and implemented practical brand and reputation management solutions for other Fortune 500 corporations, business leaders, high-profile celebrities and philanthropic organizations.
During his 20 years at McDonald’s, Donahue garnered widespread public and media attention, and awards for finding creative ways of “telling the story” behind his client’s commitment to socially responsible, value-based principles. He also led McDonald’s Balanced Lifestyle initiatives, and pioneered numerous initiatives, including the Go Active American Challenge, featuring Oprah’s world-renowned personal trainer, Bob Greene – all focused on helping consumers achieve healthy and balanced lifestyles.
Mike resides in Burr Ridge, Illinois, and has two sons – Patrick and Keaton. He is a founding partner of LYFE Kitchen, a restaurant that was founded on the idea that great-tasting food should be great-for-you. Mike’s extensive background gives him the perspective and passion to help LYFE Kitchen fulfill its mission to bring delicious, healthy and socially-responsible dining options to people across the country.
Donahue serves on numerous advisory and charitable boards, is a well-regarded speaker and consultant in the areas of Brand Development, Crisis Management and Anticipatory Issues Management.
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