On Saturday, April 2nd, The Eli’s Cheesecake company participated in Refugee One‘s Many Voices One Vision Gala. The Gala was a celebration for the people and companies who help refugees attain jobs and develop their careers, as well as highlight the success stories of many refugees. This year, the Eli’s Cheesecake Company’s CEO, Marc Schulman, received the Many Voices. One Vision. Award for being a champion for hiring hard-working refugees for more than twenty-five years.

Attending the event was Eli’s associate, Elias Kasongo. He, along with many others, has developed his career with Eli’s. WBEZ CHICAGO recently did an interview with him and Marc Schulman, which you can listen to here. Kasongo spoke about his life and the 22 years that he has been working for Eli’s Cheesecake. Kasongo came to Chicago from the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 1994.  Through Refugee One, he was connected to The Eli’s Cheesecake Company and received his first U.S. job. He was able to work his way up from working in the dish room, to becoming product purchasing manager.

Schulman spoke about his policy of hiring refugees. He believes that, “refugees are a very important part of who we are.” He believes that refugees are as much as part of the community as anyone else. They are “important contributors.” Additionally, he stressed that at Eli’s, “we consider ourselves a family [and] are successful because of the great associates we have.” March Schulman stressed the importance of hiring refugees and people with disabilities and responded to some of the negative discourse behind it. He believes that these workers are some of the hardest workers. Schulman holds his father’s, Eli M. Schulman, words, “treat others as if you were the other,” close, which is why at Eli’s, everyone is treated equally.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, similarly praises Eli’s Cheesecake for hiring refugees who need work.

March Schulman and Elias Kasongo.

March Schulman and Elias Kasongo.