J. Clifford Hudson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Clifford Hudson has spent almost 35 years at Sonic Corp., an Oklahoma City-based, publicly-held company that owns, operates and franchises SONIC Drive-In restaurants (NASDAQ: SONC). Today, he is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of this public company with 3,500 franchised and company-operated drive-in restaurants.
Hudson has been chief executive officer (CEO) of Sonic Corp. since April 1995 and was named chairman of Sonic Corp. in January 2000. Prior to that time, he served the company in a variety of capacities, including general counsel, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
During Hudson’s tenure as CEO of Sonic Corp., system sales have grown from $880 million to $4.5 billion. The company’s enterprise value (the public value of its common stock plus debt) has grown from approximately $200 million to almost $2.0 billion.
Hudson has been affiliated with many nonprofit and community activities. He served as chairman of the board of directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a presidential appointment, from 1994-2001. He served as chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board from 2001-2008, a position created in 2000 as part of a $530 million turnaround of a 40,000 student, inner-city Oklahoma City Public School system, for which he received the 2012 David T. Kearns Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education. In recognition of this public service, Hudson received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Oklahoma City University. He previously served as trustee of the Ford Foundation (New York) and is a past chairman of the board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He currently serves as the chairman of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
In his position, Hudson has earned achievements such as the 2004 Silver Plate – Foodservice Operator of the Year Award from International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and 2000 Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) Golden Chain Award from Nation’s Restaurant News. Most recently, SONIC has also received national recognition from publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, QSR and Restaurants & Institutions. He has been a frequent and requested guest on multiple business and financial news channels including Bloomberg, CNBC and FOX News.