Businesswoman and Philanthropist. She managed the McDonald's franchise in Guatemala from its start in 1974 and is recognized for having introduced a concept for a small childrens' menu to the company that would lead to the creation of the "Happy Meal." She focused on marketing the franchise as a family restaurant; to be better prepared, she attended Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois and participated in seminars and conventions. While working in the restaurant, she noticed that the menu portions offered were too large for children. This led her to introduce the "Ronald Menu", which included a small hamburger, a small portion French fries and an ice cream, in addition to a toy. The idea was noticed by executives at the McDonald's corporate offices in the US, who advised her to present the menu in the World Franchisee Convention in 1977. McDonald's adopted the idea and implemented it worldwide in 1979, renaming it to "Happy Meal." Fernández de Cofiño received a "Ronald Award" from the corporation. Another innovation that was implemented by Fernández de Cofiño locally and then adopted by McDonald's internationally was the concept of birthday celebrations in the restaurants. She was granted a second "Ronald Award" for this idea. After her husband died, Fernández de Cofiño continued managing the restaurant chain; in 2006 she acquired the franchises for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, establishing "McDonald's Mesoamérica." In 2018 she left the franchise management to her children, although she continued participating occasionally. Fernández de Cofiño established the Ronald McDonald Foundation in Guatemala. This foundation supports children with severe malnutrition and other illnesses. The first McHappy Day in Guatemala was held in 1999; in this day, all the income from Big Mac sales is destined for the foundation. The first Ronald McDonald House, which provides lodging for low-income families traveling to Guatemala City for medical treatment, was opened in 2005. Currently there are three Ronald McDonald Houses in Guatemala, all located close to the main public hospitals in the city.
Bio by: Ola K Ase