On May 11th, 2013, David Merage received the 2013 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award given to U.S. immigrants and native-born citizens who have made substantial contributions to American society. David was born in Iran and migrated to the U.S. when he was 15 years old. Since then, David has made a name for himself through both business and philanthropy. David and brother, Paul Merage, founded the well-known company Chef America, manufacturer of Hot Pockets©, Lean Pockets©, and Croissant Pockets©. After selling the company to Nestlé in 2002, David founded Consolidated Investment Group (CIG) based in Denver. CIG specializes in capital markets, commercial real estate, and private equity.
David and wife Laura’s philanthropic values are rooted in the family’s tradition to promote education as a way of improving life conditions and outcomes. Andre and Katherine Merage, David’s parents, instilled the value of empathy and compassion to others, encouraging their children to use their success to create positive social change. The David and Laura Merage Foundation was founded to promote self-sufficiency through education, community development, and arts and culture. These philanthropic ventures have positively impacted the lives of those throughout the U.S. and Israel, distinguishing David as a prime candidate for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. David is recognized among U.S. presidents, Nobel Prize winners, artists, and athletes. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recognized the significance of David’s innovative and philanthropic ventures by proclaiming May 11th as David Merage Day.