About Nourishing Hope
Nourishing Hope, formerly known as Lakeview Pantry, is a dynamic nonprofit providing food, free mental health counseling and social services to any Chicagoan in need. Founded in 1970, Nourishing Hope is one of the largest and longest operating hunger relief organizations in Chicago, providing the equivalent of more than 4 million meals a year. We strive to serve the needs of the whole person — with respect and dignity, always.
Nourishing Hope provides an array of holistic services including:
- Food Access: Providing a robust selection of nutritious food for our Chicago neighbors in a variety of ways to reduce barriers. Nourishing Hope operates two walk-in food pantries, a first-of-its-kind online market, and a home delivery service for older adults and people with disabilities.
- Mental Wellness: Licensed, trained professionals provide free, trauma informed care for clients experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, or other stressors, getting at root causes of mental illness. No insurance is required.
- Social Services: Respectful assistance in navigating state and local resources, while supporting a plan for a healthy, stable life. Nourishing Hopeworks with neighbors to overcome any obstacles.
As one of Chicago’s most trusted and innovative hunger relief organizations, Nourishing Hope forges strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to collaboratively reduce the barriers that many face when accessing nutritious food and essential services. Nourishing Hope’s unique pairing of social services and mental health counseling, alongside food distribution services is considered a leading model for addressing the root causes of hunger.
Increased Demand & Evolving Needs:
In 2020, Nourishing Hope responded to a sharp increase in community needs onset by the COVID-19 pandemic – providing an incredible 4 million meals and providing nearly 200,000 food and social services throughout the year.
At the height of the pandemic, Nourishing Hope (then known as Lakeview Pantry) staged an emergency food distribution at historic Wrigley Field, serving thousands of people in need of food assistance.
On May 20, 2022, Nourishing Hope rebranded from Lakeview Pantry and opened a new, 21,600-square-foot headquarters in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. This rebranding was completed to reflect Nourishing Hope’s evolution from a North Side food pantry to a comprehensive provider of food, mental wellness counseling, and other social services to people throughout the city.
The more centrally located site is significant to Nourishing Hope’s plans of building more partnerships with trusted organizations. Ultimately, the goal is to serve more people in need throughout the city, particularly on the South and West Sides of Chicago, which have historically endured inequitable access to nutritious food.
The need continues to grow. The combination of national and international factors – including soaring food prices, diminished federal assistance, and international events such as war – have fueled a continued spike in food insecurity in Chicago. In fiscal year 2023, Nourishing Hope served more clients than at the height of the pandemic, with an increase of more than 43% from the previous year. Service levels have continued to rise in fiscal year 2024.
In November 2023, adding to tremendous momentum, Nourishing Hope received the inaugural Northern Trust Anchor Award – a $1 million grant from Northern Trust to boost the impact of innovative nonprofit organizations with strong growth potential.
The award will serve as a catalyst for growth to serve more Chicago neighbors in need. Specifically, the award will support additional staff and add a vehicle to increase food deliveries. It will also be utilized to continue to improve software and systems to support capacity-building and the growth of new partnerships, with a particular focus on Nourishing Hope’s innovative online market program, as well as the exploration of the feasibility of opening a new South Side food pantry.
Read the 2022-2023 Annual report
As the organization continues to scale and evolve to meet community needs, Nourishing Hope is seeking a dynamic, strategic, and committed Chief Operating Officer (‘COO’). The COO will serve as a key member of the Senior Leadership Team and play a critical role in advancing and elevating Nourishing Hope in this next chapter. This is a unique opportunity to join an entrepreneurial and high-performing team that is positively impacting thousands of lives across Chicago each year.
Reporting directly to the CEO, the COO will lead a strong and committed team of ~20. Direct reports include the Director of Food Acquisition & Logistics; the Director of Human Resources & Administration; and the Director of Finance.
Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Serve as a thought partner to the CEO and broader team to design, articulate, and implement plans to support Nourishing Hope’s short- and long-term vision, strategy, and goals.
- Develop appropriate infrastructure, systems, and processes, setting high standards for effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, and excellence throughout the supply chain including inventory, transportation and logistics, facilities management, and warehousing.
- Oversee finance and financial reporting.
- Continuously evaluate and refine strategies to enhance the efficacy and sustainability of Nourishing Hope’s initiatives.
- Mentor, guide, and develop a diverse and talented team, nurturing a vibrant culture of collaboration, respect, empathy, continuous improvement, and results-orientation.
- Identify and execute on opportunities to leverage technology to drive improvements in organizational performance.
- Develop and maintain effective relationships with external partners such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
- Leverage data and relevant KPIs to drive decision making.
- Lead the performance management process that measures and evaluates progress against strategic plan goals for the organization.
- Cultivate the values and culture of Nourishing Hope within the organization.
- Support and advance a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across all organizational efforts.
While it is understood that no candidate will offer every desired skill, quality, and characteristic, the following offers a detailed, aspirational view of the ideal candidate profile:
A Systems-Thinker with Operational Expertise
This leader will:
- Have a demonstrated track record of driving results.
- Bring a high degree of operational and logistical expertise, ideally with experience in a complex environment.
- Be energized by the opportunity to innovate, take ideas to the next level, and drive efficiencies in pursuit of maximizing organizational impact.
- Be data-driven, with the ability to conceptualize and analyze problems and solutions in a proactive, constructive, and creative manner that will result in improved performance across the organization.
- Be able to think creatively about how to leverage technology, data, and analytics to measure outcomes and support the achievement of evolving business strategies.
- Ideally have experience scaling an organization and driving efficiencies through a period of growth.
A Strategic, Innovative, & Entrepreneurial Leader
This leader will:
- Be able to serve as a trusted thought partner to the CEO.
- Be agile, organized, entrepreneurial, and able to navigate ambiguity.
- Be excited by the opportunity to operate in a fastmoving, ‘startup’ culture – with the ability to bounce between strategy and tactics – always ensuring Nourishing Hope is responsive to community needs and working to maximize impact.
- Be inherently curious and creative, with an ability to ‘think outside of the box’ and a strong aptitude for translating ideas and goals into clear strategies and action plans.
- Have an approach of continuous improvement and the adaptability to adjust and meet evolving needs.
A Strong Relationship Builder & Inspirational People Leader
This leader will:
- Be a dynamic leader, enthusiastic about the idea of serving as a ‘hands-on’ leader within Nourishing Hope during a period of evolution and growth.
- Be energized by the opportunity to mentor and guide a dedicated and dynamic team.
- Be an accessible leader with a diverse set of leadership skills and the humility and willingness to leverage others’ expertise when needed.
- Have a collaborative approach and an ability to work effectively at all levels of the organization – from the front-lines to the Board room.
- Have the ability to build strong relationships with external partners.
A Commitment to the Mission
This leader will:
- Demonstrate a passion for Nourishing Hope’s mission and an eagerness to promote and communicate the philosophy, mission, and values of Nourishing Hope.
- Have a deep commitment to the Chicago region and community.
- Have a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Have a sense of humor; someone who takes the work seriously but doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
- Be genuinely excited to join an organization and team committed to growing and evolving.
- Be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values; can be trusted without reservation.
The exact salary that will be offered to the COO will be determined based on a consideration of the successful candidate’s skills and experience, aligned with Nourishing Hope’s compensation policies.
This is an in-office role, reporting out of Nourishing Hope headquarters in Chicago, Illinois with the expectation of a presence in all Nourishing Hope locations.
For more information, please download the Position Profile.