Julie Smolyansky

Julie Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm when she took over healthy foods manufacturer Lifeway Foods at age 27. She since bolstered the company’s growth trajectory with innovative product development, marketing strategies and expanded distribution.

Known as a passionate political activist, Vanity Fair headlined a feature article on Julie “How a Sexist Comment Drove One Female Entrepreneur to build a $20 Million Empire.”

She was recently 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” and has been profiled in Forbes and other media numerous times.

Julie served for many years 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 focused on human rights and social justice, including “The Homestretch,” “Honor Diaries,” and multiple-award-winning “The Hunting Ground.”

She co-founded the nonprofit Test400k, a campaign to resolve the backlog of untested rape kits after learning that 400,000 evidence kits collected after alleged sexual assaults in the U.S. dating back to at least 1979 have been sitting in police storage facilities around the country without processing. Before joining Lifeway, Julie spent three years as a certified rape crisis counselor and in-home family counselor working with children. She lives in Chicago and is the mother of two girls.

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