Around The Space-19.jpg

PRESS RELEASE: Don Thompson to Receive Chicagoness Award at 12th Annual Momentum Awards

Don Thompson, Cleveland Avenue Founder, to be Honored at The 12th Annual Momentum Awards for Exemplifying the Spirit of the Chicago Founder Community

Don Thompson-03 

CHICAGO (September 10, 2019) -- 1871 and The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) announced today that Don Thompson, Founder/CEO of Cleveland Avenue LLC and former President/CEO of McDonald’s Corporation, will receive the Chicagoness Award for epitomizing the essence of Chicago’s founder community. 

The Chicagoness Award is bestowed upon individuals or companies that exemplify the values of the Chicago entrepreneurial community, which includes educational initiative, inclusion, and commitment to collective opportunity.

“As a native Chicagoan, I’m honored to receive this unique award from 1871. My wife Liz and I, along with the Cleveland Avenue team, leverage our professional expertise to mentor and invest in emerging food and beverage entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. It’s also special that this award recognizes our longstanding philanthropic work, specifically in education. Our family foundation, the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education, funds organizations which create greater access to education and career opportunities for diverse youth.” – Don Thompson, Founder and CEO, Cleveland Avenue LLC

Past recipients of the Chicagoness Award include Future Founders, a youth startup accelerator, and music artist Lupe Fiasco.


“We share a passion with Don – supporting entrepreneurs and giving back. Don’s drive and energy have a powerful impact on our community in important and necessary ways, from his hands-on approach in nurturing founders of disruptive startups, to his commitment to diversity and inclusion and mentoring aspiring leaders and visionaries. Don is the epitome of what Chicagoness stands for, and we are honored to present Don with our prestigious Chicagoness award.” – Larry Eppley, Board Chairman, CEC

“Don is a respected business and philanthropic leader who possesses all of the traits that make up the Chicago entrepreneur, such as grit, passion, and focused discipline. I’m inspired by his career accomplishments and commitment to our communities. I look forward to his continued impact on our tech and innovation ecosystem.” – Betsy Ziegler, CEO, 1871

In addition to the Chicagoness Award, several other honors will be presented at the 12th Annual Momentum Awards on September 19, including the Corporate Champion Award, which will be presented to BMO Harris Bank; the Entrepreneurial Champion Award, which will be presented to Relativity CEO Mike Gamson; and the Momentum Rising Star Award and the Momentum Award, the recipients of which will be revealed during the ceremony. The Momentum Awards will be attended by Chicago’s best and brightest tech innovators, corporate leaders, and civic supporters. It is the largest gathering of the tech community annually and the primary fundraiser for the CEC, which supports the activities and operations of 1871.

About Cleveland Avenue

Cleveland Avenue, LLC is a privately-held venture capital firm which accelerates and strategically invests in innovative restaurant, food and beverage concepts and emerging brands including Beyond Meat, Drink Maple, Bhakti, Farmer's Fridge and SomruS.  

About CEC

Founded in 1999, the CEC is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs on their path to building high-growth, sustainable businesses that serve as platforms for economic development and civic leadership. Its flagship project, 1871, fulfills CEC’s vision of a central address for entrepreneurs in Chicago. The CEC runs and operates the workspace, develops programming, organizes events, and ensures that the culture of 1871 allows entrepreneurs the greatest opportunity for success

About 1871

1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.

Yun Tai, Director of Communications
(910) 391-9496

Topics: News

Read the 1871 Blog for news about the Chicago technology and entrepreneurship community, as well as helpful tips, guides, and insights into the startup and investment world.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

1871 On Instagram