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Exclusive: McDonald’s hires new general counsel

March 29, 2021, 9:30 PM UTC
Desiree Ralls-Morrison is joining McDonald's as general counsel from Boston Scientific.
Courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald’s has hired Desiree Ralls-Morrison as its new general counsel and corporate secretary, the company announced today. She previously held the same position at medical solutions company Boston Scientific since 2017.

In a message to the company announcing the hire viewed by Fortune, CEO Chris Kempczinski called the role “incredibly important” for the entire system. “Sophisticated legal expertise is critical in an organization of McDonald’s scale and geographies, and Desiree will be leading our well-established legal team to further build on the strong foundation in place,” he wrote.

Ralls-Morrison is also a director at Dick’s Sporting Goods, which Kempczinski said would bring to the company “an important understanding of the consumer landscape.”

In a release, McDonald’s said in addition to overseeing the company’s legal operations across the globe, she will “support the company’s strategies, anticipate and manage risk, and advance McDonald’s brand and values.

“The challenges are complex, but the opportunities are significant,” Ralls-Morrison said in the statement.

Ralls-Morrison starts on April 26 and replaces Jerry Krulewitch, who retired last year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The announcement comes amid a slew of new hires in key positions at the company, including global chief people officer; global diversity, equity and inclusion officer; and the newly created role of chief global impact officer.

Kempczinski’s memo stressed both Ralls-Morrison’s “values-based leadership” and commitment to diversity. She joins McDonald’s as it faces a number of lawsuits, including one it is waging against its former CEO Steve Easterbrook. The company is attempting to claw back his compensation after discovering that he allegedly had sexual relationship with three McDonald’s employees and was “knowingly untruthful with McDonald’s investigators” about it. Easterbrook’s lawyers have called the suit “meritless” and “misleading.”

The company is also facing several lawsuits that accuse it of racial discrimination. McDonald’s has disputed the allegations, calling the suits without merit, and sought to have them dismissed.

Before Boston Scientific, Ralls-Morrison was general counsel at pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim USA and Johnson & Johnson’s consumer group.