Julie Smolyansky


Lifeway Foods

Julie Smolyansky is an Ukrainian-American businesswoman. She is the CEO of Illinois-based dairy company Lifeway Foods.

Julie Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm when she took over Lifeway Foods at the age of 27 in 2002. Since then, Julie has continued the company’s growth trajectory with creative product development and marketing, bringing an Eastern European product into the U.S. mainstream and boosting annual company revenues to over $120 million in 2017 from $12 million when she took over. Under her leadership, the Company has expanded distribution throughout the United States, Mexico, the UK, and Ireland as well as portions of Central and South America and the Caribbean. She has been named to Fortune Business ‘40 under 40,’ Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter and Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 1000. She is a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Julie serves as a member of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council and was part of the 2015 class of Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. She has produced several documentaries, including “The Homestretch,” “Honor Diaries” and “The Hunting Ground.” In 2013 Julie co‐founded a non‐profit, Test400k, an organization dedicated to advocating ending the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the United States. She will release her first book, The Kefir Cookbook: An Ancient Healing Superfood for Modern Life, Recipes from My Family Table and Around the World in March of 2018. She lives in Chicago and is the mother of two girls.

“I didn’t take a single business class. I learned on the job.” “I have an opportunity to give a voice to those who have no voice. Even though film production wasn’t a bucket list item for my life, what I have been passionate about is creating change and impacting society – especially bringing conversations forward on formerly taboo subjects.” “It is still harder all around for women to get funding in business and film. There are only a very small group of female unicorns who have the power to tell stories on film. We need to have the courage to push back… all the effort is the work of bravery.”

Where You Can Find Julie