The Friendship Center is grateful for the expertise and dedication of its board members.

Michelle Cahoon, Vice Chair
Independent Director, Russell Funds, and Retired Financial Services Executive

Michelle Cahoon has been a volunteer at The Friendship Center since July 2019 after spending 30-plus years in the financial services industry as the CFO of an investment management firm and a certified public accountant. Michelle has been a long-time financial supporter of the Greater Chicago Food Depository due to her strong belief that no one should go hungry and becoming a regular volunteer at the pantry was a top goal after her retirement. Michelle joined the board in 2021 and brings both her hands-on knowledge from volunteering as well as her financial skills to that role. Michelle enjoys food, wine and travel and has been an avid Blackhawks fan since before their recent Stanley Cup wins.

Susan Casey
Zero Waste Schools Program Manager, Seven Generations Ahead

Susan Casey joined The Friendship Center board in 2021 and helps with Saturday food deliveries to seniors. She has lived in the North Park community with her family for over 20 years, where she’s enjoyed volunteer leadership roles in the local community association and a local school. As a program manager for the environmental nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead, Susan helps K-12 schools reduce waste. She was a middle school science teacher prior to that. Susan looks forward to contributing her nonprofit, education and community-building experience to the work and mission of The Friendship Center.

Patrick Bill Daniels
Assistant Director of Health and Equity, Swedish Hospital

Patrick Bill Daniels serves as the assistant director of Health and Equity for Swedish Hospital. With more than 10 years of nonprofit management and community organizing, Patrick leads Swedish’s Healthy Chicago Equity Zone project. He is responsible for implementing the strategic plan that addresses the health disparity challenges in Chicago. Patrick joined The Friendship Center board in 2022. He is excited to bring his community organizing and project management skills to The Friendship Center. In addition to serving on the Friendship Center board, he is president of the University of Illinois at Chicago We Are Men (WAM) program and founder of the Bill & Margie Daniels Foundation. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, cycling, and spinning records at social gatherings.

Raquel daFonseca
Global Ethics & Compliance Officer and Deputy General Counsel Daniel J. Edelman Holdings, Inc.

Raquel joined the Board in 2022.  She is currently the Global Ethics & Compliance Officer and Deputy General Counsel for Daniel J. Edelman Holdings, Inc. (DJEH), one of the largest, worldwide, privately held public relations and strategic communications firm in the world.   Prior to joining DJEH, Raquel had a fifteen (15) year legal career serving in different legal and compliance roles with various companies within The General Electric Company.  In addition to serving on The Friendship Center Board, Raquel serves as Secretary for the Women’s Excellence Network (WEN), a not-for-profit, legal women’s diversity group.

Elizabeth M. Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson has served on the board of The Friendship Center since 2016. Elizabeth is a lawyer with litigation and regulatory expertise, including in the financial services sector, most recently working as Associate General Counsel for Citadel Enterprise Americas. She is a member of North Park Covenant Church and serves on its Board of Community Concern. She also volunteers with several alumni affinity groups of the University of Chicago. 

Melissa D. Sobota, Secretary
Partner, Franczek P.C.

Melissa Sobota has served on the board of the Friendship Center since 2016 and was a consistent volunteer with the Friendship Center Pet Food Pantry for two years prior to that. Melissa is a management-side labor and employment attorney and a partner in the law firm of Franczek P.C. where she focuses her practice primarily on traditional labor matters. Melissa continues to volunteer with the Pet Food Pantry and is an avid animal lover. Melissa is an alumni of the University of Oklahoma and Chicago-Kent College of Law and continues to be active in her alumni networks.

Rob Vosters, Treasurer
Senior Manager of Records and Information Compliance, Vedder Price, P.C.

Rob Vosters began volunteering at The Friendship Center in 2013 before joining the board in 2015. He has served as the organization’s treasurer since 2016 and helps support the organization’s technology and data initiatives. Rob is the Senior Manager of Records and Information Compliance at Vedder Price, P.C., an international law firm headquartered in Chicago.

Kelly Weiss
Senior Manager, WM Reply

Kelly Weiss joined the Board in 2022. Kelly has her master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago and has spent her career focusing on fundraising, resource allocation, and IT equity. With 15+ years in project management and IT operations, she currently works on large-scale IT system rollouts. Kelly has also published two novels and will bring her combined passions for IT user experience and storytelling to the Friendship Center. 

Catherine Werner
Director of Development, One World Surgery

Catherine Werner serves as director of development for One World Surgery, a nonprofit dedicated to global health. Previously, Catherine managed international community development and disaster relief partnerships and financials for Covenant World Relief. Catherine has been a fundraising professional for more than 10 years, working with nonprofits to end poverty, violence and inequality both nationally and globally. She and her husband, Matt, live in Chicago and are members of North Park Covenant Church where they actively participate in music ministry.

Sarah Zimmerman, Chair
Senior Associate Director, Annual Giving, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Sarah Zimmerman works as the senior associate director, annual giving at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. With more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and management, she is responsible for driving strategy for the Law School’s annual fund and legal clinic. As a member of the board, Sarah supports the Friendship Center’s fundraising strategies, communications and strategic planning efforts.