Our Founder

Hamdi Ulukaya

Chairman and CEO of Chobani

Hamdi Ulukaya was raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey. After moving to the United States, he founded Chobani in 2005 with the mission and vision of making high-quality food more accessible. Five years after selling the first cup of yogurt, Chobani was a billion-dollar brand, and today is the #1 selling yogurt brand in the U.S. The company has since expanded to an innovative modern food portfolio, adding creamers and oat milk. In 2023 Chobani acquired La Colombe, a leading coffee roaster with a shared commitment to quality, craftmanship and impact. As a result, the Company began selling cold-pressed espresso and lattes on tap at 32 cafes, as well as Ready to Drink (RTD) coffee beverages at retail.

As a leader in the food and beverage industry, Ulukaya built Chobani on the foundation that it would do well by doing good. Since 2022, Chobani has donated over 6.4 million pounds of food to combat hunger in America. Ulukaya is well-known for his employee-first policies, including instituting innovative profit-sharing and paid parental leave programs for Chobani’s 3,000-plus employees, and implementing competitive hourly wage increases well above the federal rate. He has also become a leading voice in the movement to hire refugees, having discovered through his own experience hiring them that “the minute a refugee gets a job is the minute they stop being a refugee.”

This inspired him to start the Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2016, with the mission of mobilizing the world’s biggest businesses to integrate refugees. In under a decade, Tent has expanded its operations to a dozen countries across the Americas and Europe and grown its network to more than 400 major companies – including Amazon, Hilton, Marriott, and Pfizer – that are committed to hiring refugees and helping them become job-ready. In 2024, Tent was recognized as a TIME100 Most Influential Companies honoree. Ulukaya also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to help bring an end to refugees’ crisis.

For those efforts, Ulukaya was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award, among other recognitions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also named him as a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. Ulukaya has received the Oslo Business for Peace Award and George H.W Bush Points of Light Award, is a Global Citizen Prize winner, and was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work on the refugee crisis and his innovative approach to business.

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