Posted by Arab American Institute on March 08, 2017 in Blog

Hamdi_Ulukaya_Headshot.jpegFrom his earliest ventures, Hamdi Ulukaya’s career has been defined by visionary thinking and courageous action. Raised in a small village in eastern Turkey, he came to the United States in 1994 to study English. Seeing the shortage of options for the wholesome foods of his native country, Mr. Ulukaya launched his now-famed yogurt company, Chobani, in 2007 with the help of loans from the Small Business Administration. Within five years, Chobani’s sales exceeded more than $1 billion annually.

Demonstrating profound support for the betterment of humanity by promoting equality and inclusion, Ulukaya has been a committed advocate for the disability community. Serving on the International Board of Special Olympics, Ulukaya helps to raise awareness and encourage change in our perception of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also sits on the board of the Pathfinder Village, a non-profit community where individuals with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities can discover and grow their talents and abilities.

As Chobani has grown exponentially, Mr. Ulukaya has remained committed to serving others and rethinking the role of the private sector in addressing global crises. Mr. Ulukaya travelled to the Greek Island of Lesbos in 2015 as the refugee crisis was just beginning to hit European shores. There, he witnessed first-hand the magnitude of need and immediately recognized the critical role that he personally could play in addressing the crisis. Shortly after returning Mr. Ulukaya established the Tent Foundation and Tent Alliance to bring together more than 40 businesses and NGOs to develop innovative solutions to what is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. 

His commitment to refugees doesn’t end with philanthropy. At Chobani, Mr. Ulukaya employs hundreds of recently resettled refugees and offers social support with on-site translators and English classes. As part of his efforts to tackle growing income inequality in the U.S., Mr. Ulukaya made waves this past year when he announced a ground-breaking profit-sharing program for Chobani’s 2,000 employees. He is also an outspoken advocate for increasing the minimum wage.

Mr. Ulukaya signed the Giving Pledge in 2015, promising to give away the majority of his wealth over his lifetime to charitable initiatives. For his dedication to assisting refugees, Mr. Ulukaya was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in 2015. He also sits on the board of the American Turkish Council. Mr. Ulukaya’s trail-blazing efforts are why we are honored to present him with the Award for Individual Achievement

Hamdi Ulukaya will be honored along with fellow Gibran awardees The Arc of the United States, former Executive Director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force Greg Simon, and Dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism Steve Coll at AAIF’s 19th annual Kahlil Gibran Gala. We hope you will join us too. Purchase your tickets today.


 19th Annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Grand Hyatt Hotel
1000 H Street NW | Washington, D.C. 

5:30 Reception | 6:30 Gala
Black Tie