Retired Chairman and CEO
The Clorox Company
Donald R. “Don” Knauss retired as the executive chairman of The Clorox Company in 2015. He joined The Clorox Company as chairman and chief executive officer in October 2006. As CEO, he had overall responsibility for directing the company’s worldwide business, which generated revenues of $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2013.
Prior to joining Clorox, Knauss spent 12 years with The Coca-Cola Company. He joined the company in 1994 as senior vice president of marketing for The Minute Maid Company, and in 1996 was promoted to senior vice president and general manager for Minute Maid’s U.S. retail operations. Beginning in 1998, Knauss served nearly two years managing Coca-Cola’s businesses in ten countries of southern Africa. In 2000, he was named president and chief executive officer of The Minute Maid Company. He became president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola North America in 2004.
Knauss previously held a variety of positions in marketing and sales with the Frito-Lay and Tropicana divisions of PepsiCo, Inc. He began his business career as a brand manager in the paper products division at Procter & Gamble. Prior to that, he served as an officer of the United States Marine Corps.
Knauss is a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of San Diego where he served as chair from 2016-2023 and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Kellogg Company, Target Corporation, and previously served as a director of the URS Corporation. In 2018, Knauss retired from the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He has served on the Board of Directors for the McKesson Corporation since 2014 and was elected as Chairman of the Board on April 1, 2022.
Knauss has a long-standing commitment to promoting workplace equality and embracing diversity. In 2006, he received The Jackie Robinson Foundation’s ROBIE Award for industry achievement. The ROBIE Award is the foundation’s highest tribute to an individual who has promoted and expanded opportunities for minorities in the corporate world.
A native of Highland, Ind., Knauss holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University. One of Knauss’ personal passions is promoting education, which includes serving on the Marine Corps University Foundation board of trustees. He also served on the Morehouse College (Atlanta) board of trustees for thirteen years, from 2004-2017. In 2007, Don and his wife Ellie launched, and continue to personally fund, the Knauss Scholars Program. This annual program provides 15 children of Clorox employees as much as $10,000 each — $2,500 per year for a four-year program — to be applied toward accredited colleges and universities, as well as vocational and technical schools. In 2017, the Knausses extended their transformational philanthropy at the University of San Diego to provide the naming gift for the proposed new School of Business facility, Knauss Center for Business Education. In May 2020, the Knausses committed a $5 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation to support Texas A&M University’s Veteran Resource & Support Center (VRSC). The center will be renamed the Don and Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource & Support Center. In December 2021, the Knausses once again increased their philanthropic giving to the University of San Diego to $50 million as their investment in educating ethical and compassionate business leaders. In honor of their remarkable gift, the business school at USD will be known as the Knauss School of Business.