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Michael J. Coles Bio

Benefactor, Co-Founder | The Great American Cookie Company

Michael Coles is an accomplished entrepreneur, businessman and community leader. After more than a decade in the clothing business, he co-founded the Great American Cookie Company in 1977 and grew it into the largest franchisor of cookie stores in the US with sales over $100 million. In 1987, Coles was one of the founders of the Charter Bank and Trust, where he served as board chairman. He grew the bank both organically and through acquisitions, eventually taking the company public.

In 2003, Coles became chairman, CEO and president of Caribou Coffee Company and under his direction the company grew domestically and internationally, eventually becoming a publicly traded company. He currently serves at the executive chairman and president of Global Onboard Partner, which specializes in advertising on commercial airlines.

Coles story of personal perseverance is as impressive as his many business ventures. Following a near-fatal accident in 1977, he was told he would never walk again. He recovered through a rehabilitation cycling program and went on to compete and set records in two World Transcontinental Bicycling events. Coles and his wife, Donna, work on many philanthropic causes and were honored as the Georgia Philanthropists of the Year by the Georgia Chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives.

Coles has a long-standing relationship with Kennesaw State University, receiving an Honorary Doctorate in 1999 and the Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion for Entrepreneurship. In 1994, the college of business was renamed the Michael J. Coles College of Business in recognition of his success, leadership and support. He was recently named to the Michael J. Coles College of Business Hall of Fame.