Hamdi Ulukaya is the 2016 recipient of our annual Christensen Prize as well as a previous 2013 Honoree
Hamdi Ulukaya is founder, Chairman and CEO of Chobani, LLC, widely regarded as one of the most successful American food companies of the past decade and a pioneer for the natural food movement.
A Kurdish Turk raised in dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey, Hamdi launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in Upstate New York in 2007 with the mission and vision of making better food more accessible. In less than five years, Chobani became the No. 1–selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than a billion dollars in annual sales – making Chobani one of the fastest growing companies of its time.
Hamdi’s vision for Chobani has effectively transformed the food industry in America. Founded with the belief that success would also be measured by the improvement of its local communities, Chobani has donated 10% of its profits to charitable causes, many of them in Idaho and New York where Chobani is made, from the very beginning.
A devoted philanthropist, Hamdi signed The Giving Pledge in 2015 and committed the majority of his wealth to help address the global refugee crisis. To bring entrepreneurial approaches and creative solutions to displaced persons and refugees around the world, he founded the Tent Foundation in the same year. He has been named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and in 2015 received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award, among other recognitions, for his work with underserved individuals around the world.
In April 2014, Hamdi was selected by President Barack Obama as an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) and was named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013.
Hamdi sits on the board of the International Board of Special Olympics, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, The American Turkish Council, The American Turkish Society and Pathfinder Village for Down syndrome. He is also a Vice Chair of the Corporate Fund Board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Hamdi is a big fan of independent films and the Turkish soccer team Fenerbahce. He lives in New Berlin, N.Y. with his two German Shepherds.
Twitter – @hamdiulukaya
Facebook – Hamdi Ulukaya
Website – tent.org