At Eli’s Cheesecake, we are very proud of our long time partnership with RefugeeOne, the largest full service refugee settlement agency in Illinois. Without RefugeeOne, we would would have never met Elias Kasongo, who came to Eli’s Cheesecake in 1994 after being held for 4 years in a refugee camp in Zambia after leaving his home in the Congo. Over those years, Elias has gone from the dish room to becoming Purchasing & Materials Manager with a degree from Northeastern Illinois University, having a beautiful family and now a home owner.

Elias’ story is compelling and we so honored to get a call on Friday that a distinguished visitor to Chicago, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights wanted to stop by Eli’s to meet Elias. Under Secretary Sewall was in Chicago to speak about atrocity prevention to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She also visited RefugeeOne (where she learned about Elias and Eli’s Cheesecake) and met with the leadership of World Business Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International.

At Eli’s Cheesecake, Under Secretary Sewall and her colleague, Virginia Blakeman, were able to meet with Elias and  with Vlora Morina who came to Chicago and Eli’s Cheesecake from Kosovo after the War that had brought so much devastation to that area. Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake, and son the Founder, Eli M. Schulman, was able to share a presentation of the history of Eli’s Cheesecake in Chicago including its Big Cakes for Presidential Inaugurals, creating the 50th Birthday Cakes for both Secretary Clinton and President Obama and the company’s strong commitment to the community including the RefugeeOne Partnership.



Virginia Blakeman of the State Department, Elias Kasongo and Vlora Morina, both of Eli’s Cheesecake, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the State Department and Eli’s President, Marc Schulman

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Under Secretary Sewall listens to Elias Kasongo’s story of coming to Chicago from a Refugee Camp in the Congo and achievements at Eli’s Cheesecake.




Vlora Morina speaks with Virginia Blakeman of the State Department about her work at Eli’s Cheesecake and her story of coming to Chicago from Kosovo.