The Journal Record, an award-winning daily general business and legal publication, recently recognized Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson as the most admired CEO of an Oklahoma publicly held company.
The honor came during the publication’s annual event on February 12 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
“I’m honored to be recognized for contributing to growing a small shop that started in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to one of the largest quick-service restaurants in the nation,” Hudson says. “We could not have done it without our strong franchisees, their dedicated team members, and the commitment of our Sonic field and corporate employees.”
A panel of business and community leaders selected honorees based on those who exemplified integrity, vision, and commitment to community.
Hudson has been with Sonic Drive-In for 28 years serving as general counsel, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer before assuming his current roles as chairman of the Board and CEO.
Hudson's time as CEO of Sonic has seen systemwide sales increase from $880 million to almost $4 billion.
Hudson has also been affiliated with several nonprofit and community activities. He serves as trustee of the Ford Foundation and recently served as chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board (2001–2008) and chairman of the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2008–2011).
In 2009, he led Sonic in developing the award-winning Limeades for Learning cause program. The program pairs the company with DonorsChoose.org  to allow the general public to direct Sonic funds toward classroom projects of their choice.
Sonic and its franchise partners have donated more than $2.7 million to public school classrooms through the program since its inception.