Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Chicago, IL   |   November 8, 2019

About the Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Greater Chicago Food Depository (“the Food Depository”) is a leading social service organization supported by a vast network of volunteers, passionate public and private advocates and devoted financial sponsors.  The organization is a leader in the space both at a regional and national level.

Since 1979, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, has worked to deliver food for today and hope for the future. As a nonprofit food justice organization, the Food Depository provides food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in the community.

The Food Depository is a part of a united community effort working to bring food, dignity and hope to their Cook County neighbors. The organization distributes food, both donated and purchased, through a network of 700 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs. These programs provide food where it’s most needed. Additionally, the Food Depository addresses the root causes of hunger. Public benefits outreach and workforce development programs offer a hand up for neighbors to overcome poverty. The Food Depository also works to lift collective voices by educating, engaging, and advocating for neighbors struggling with hunger – at the community, state, and Federal levels.

By taking hunger off the table, the Food Depository enables families to focus on other priorities like education, growth and security. Today and in the long term, providing nutritious food is an investment in health and hope for the community.

As the face of hunger in the community has changed, the Food Depository has evolved. The organization’s programs address the specific needs of diverse groups including children, older adults and veterans:


  • Children – The Food Depository’s school-based partnerships, Healthy Student Markets and Kids Cafes provide nutritious food to children in priority communities.
  • Older Adults – The Food Depository regularly delivers fresh produce and groceries to retirement residences and other locations serving older adults in Cook County.
  • Veterans – With thousands of veterans in Cook County living below the poverty line, the Food Depository’s pantries at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital provide weekly assistance to those who served.


  • The Benefits Outreach Program helps eligible Cook County residents apply for and receive SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid benefits. The Food Depository partners with community healthcare providers, offering food insecurity screenings; this helps connect clients with resources that will improve their health and quality of life.


  • Chicago’s Community Kitchens, the Food Depository’s intensive workforce development program prepares unemployed and underemployed adults for restaurant and foodservice jobs that can lead to sustainable careers.

By working together to help those most in need go from hungry to hopeful, we truly become a Greater Chicago.

The Food Depository is a member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks. For more information on the Greater Chicago Food Depository, please visit

The Opportunity

At this critical juncture in its history, the Food Depository is seeking a Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) to lead a transformation in how the Food Depository lives its mission and delivers its vision while elevating the impact of its leaders and people as the organization enters an important next chapter.

The COO will establish a highly collaborative, effectively communicative and trusted partnership with the CEO that maximizes the external effectiveness of the CEO while driving her confidence in the rigor, professionalism, inspiration, caring and strategic relevance of internal operations.

Together with the CEO and senior leadership team, the COO will clearly define shared goals and co-create strategies, plans and measures for achieving those goals in support of the vision and mission. The COO will lead an executive team in developing and implementing changes in the Food Depository’s operating model and resource allocations in support of the strategy and outcomes it seeks to achieve around reducing both food insecurity, and the root causes of food insecurity, in the Chicagoland area.

S/he will be charged with building and scaling operations for a prepared meals production facility and service line, an innovative new strategic initiative with the opportunity to significantly expand the organization’s impact.  The COO will foster the creation of systems, processes, tools and best practices that enable the launch and ongoing success of the new facility and business line.  S/he will bring exceptional leadership ability, steady strategic perspective, a rigorous analytical orientation and a facility with quantitative matters to help the executive team drive timely decisions and execute operations in a manner that is consistent with mission impact.

The COO will lead and manage the team in a way that fosters a diverse, inclusive, respectful, entrepreneurial, urgent and results-focused organizational culture.  S/he will lead the implementation of internal policies and procedures that facilitate the success of team members and the organization.

Reporting directly to the CEO, the COO will serve as a key advisor to the CEO of the Food Depository, helping navigate alignment around external imperatives and necessary operating tradeoffs.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal competencies, qualities and characteristics:

Passion for the Mission

The COO will have a passion for the mission of the Food Depository and an unwavering commitment to ending hunger. This leader will embrace the core values of the organization and its commitment to transforming the lives of those in need. S/he will flourish in a mission-driven, results-oriented environment. S/he will have a collaborative spirit and will be an empathic leader, treating others with respect. This leader will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation and will enable difficult decisions as they arise.

Strategic Leadership

The COO will have a proven record of prioritizing objectives and converting strategy into effective execution.  S/he will have the ability to engage diverse stakeholders to build specific strategies focused on the achievement of outcomes and long-term strategic goals and skillfully lead transformative change in pursuit of these goals. S/he will be an innovative and enthusiastic self-starter who can position the Food Depository for the future. The COO will be a visionary and consistently elevate ideas to the next level.  This leader will thrive in a dynamic and fast-pace work environment. S/he will naturally inspire, enlighten and inform individuals, the collective team, the extended volunteer community as well as the CEO and Board of Directors.

Operational Acumen and Results Orientation

The COO will have demonstrated success in scaling a complex operation or line of business. A proven general manager, the COO will also bring the ability and confidence to ensure that the Food Depository’s operations are run efficiently and effectively. With strong critical thinking and financial acumen, s/he will have 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. The COO will leverage technology, data and analytics to measure outcomes and support the achievement of evolving business strategies.

Relationship Builder and Collaborative Leader

The COO will be skilled at building effective relationships at multiple levels within a complex environment, including internal and external Food Depository constituents. S/he will have the ability to cultivate vibrant and productive partnerships within and beyond the existing Food Depository ecosystem.  Confident yet humble, this executive will be a strong leader, communicator and collaborator who is skilled at listening to, and learning from, staff, volunteers and constituents. S/he will have the ability to develop a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate them to engage on the opportunities ahead.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The COO will play a critical role in prioritizing equity as a driver for the Food Depository. S/he will embrace principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in hiring, mentorship, teambuilding and stakeholder engagement. This leader will actively focus on building equity into structures, systems and processes for employees and the communities the Food Depository serves. The COO will bring expertise, an innovative and open mindset, and a commitment to inclusive practices that value different backgrounds and life experiences and allows everyone to bring their authentic self to work.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search.  Cheryl Stevens, Alison Ranney, Domino Gehred O’Connell and Alison Salisbury are leading the engagement. To express your interest in this role please email All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The Greater Chicago Food Depository is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit