david + Laura
David and Laura combine their decades of entrepreneurialism and creative problem-solving abilities to tackle some of the world’s biggest social challenges. By bringing their experience, resources, and dedication to each respective initiative, they have brought ambitious societal shifts closer to fruition.
David and Laura are natives of Tehran, Iran, who immigrated to the United States in their early teens with hopes of a better future.
Harnessing inspiration from his parents, Andre and Katherine, David knew from an early age that he would be an entrepreneur, ambitiously driven to excel in the business world while embracing a sense of social responsibility. Andre, David, and his brother, Paul, founded Chef America, Inc. in 1977 and subsequently developed Hot Pockets, a frozen-food product that quickly became a staple in supermarkets across the country.
Meanwhile, Laura saw that many of her peers were isolated by their artistic interests. Feeling alone and searching for a sense of community, she pioneered innovative ways for artists to be part of a collective that gives them inclusion and support.
When David and his brother sold Chef America in the early 2000s, David and Laura decided to deepen their giving by establishing a multimillion dollar foundation, using funds from the sale for philanthropic investment.
In 2002, they formed the David and Laura Merage Foundation, putting their business management expertise and entrepreneurial spirit to work on projects that address some of the most intractable societal challenges of our times.
Over the last two decades, not only have David and Laura continued to deepen their philanthropic commitment, they are also honoring their ancestors who taught them the value of giving back by cultivating generational philanthropy with their children and grandchildren.
Business Owner & Philanthropist
David is principal of Consolidated Investment Group (CIG), a Denver-based investment firm that focuses on Wall Street and real estate investments and holds one of the most diverse portfolios in the country in terms of product type and geography. CIG seeks optimal returns through direct investment, creative partnership structures, fund investments, and other innovative techniques. David has created a company that is founded on high ethical standards that puts its people first, fosters an environment of respect, integrity, and tolerance of others. The cornerstones of this culture are David’s business imperatives: respect, accountability, innovation, collaboration, a drive for excellence, having fun, and making our world a better place.
Artist & Philanthropist
As an accomplished artist and venture philanthropist, Laura Merage works to positively influence the lives of thousands of people every day. In particular, Laura has launched several nonprofit organizations that have made a profound impact on our nation’s Art and Culture landscape. Additionally, Laura serves on the University of Tel Aviv Board of Governors and is an emeritus board member for the Anti-Defamation League. Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree in Art from New York University. Laura is an artist and photographer with works in public and private collections nationally and internationally. She has studios in Denver, Hawaii, and Israel.see laura’s ted talk