Our core staff members work closely with many volunteers to ensure the Friendship Center is meeting the needs of the community with kindness and empathy.

Justin Block, Executive Director

Contact Justin about:
Fundraising | Community Partnerships | Organization Information

Justin is the Friendship Center’s Executive Director, bringing with him over 15 years of experience developing and managing teams and collaborating effectively at mission-driven organizations to increase impact for the communities they serve. Most recently, he led teams in Supply Chain and IT at Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, and prior to that, at Shorebank, a pioneering Chicago-based Community Development Financial Institution created to combat redlining, the practice of arbitrarily denying or limiting financial services to specific neighborhoods. Justin and his wife live in the Albany Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side, and when he’s not working to improve the lives of his food-insecure neighbors, he is probably somewhere drinking coffee, nerding out about pizza or watching old movies.

Photo of Ross Outten holding microgreens at a farmers market

Ross Outten, Strategic Programs Director

Contact Ross about:
Senior Deliveries | Hot Meal Program | Pet Food Pantry

Ross joined the Friendship Center team in 2017 and led the effort to move operations into a new location and launch a hot meal program. After a 20-year career in hospitality – including five years as owner/operator of Dolce Casa Cafe on Damen Avenue – he pivoted to put his cooking skills and people skills to work for neighbors in need. Ross previously led the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce and continues to collaborate with area businesses that support the food pantry in numerous ways. He is grateful for the community partners, churches, volunteers and board members who generously contribute their time, treasure and talent to make our work possible.

Karen Nevotti, Strategic Programs Director

Contact Karen about:
Senior Deliveries | Hot Meal Program | Pet Food Pantry | Food Rescue

Karen came to The Friendship Center as a volunteer and is grateful for the opportunity to turn her passion for helping others into a full-time job. She previously worked as a Project Manager for a toy company and has managed fundraisers, strategic programs, and volunteers for local elementary schools and the Circle of Help. Karen lives in Albany Park with her husband, two kids, and their famous dog, JoJo.

Photo of Alex in front of the Friendship Center's welcome wall

Alex, Manager of Operations & Logistics

Contact Alex about:
Daily Operations | Delivery Maintenance | Volunteering

Alex was born and raised in our fair city, and is the rare Chicagoan who roots for both the Cubs and White Sox. He enjoys managing an interesting and diverse group of volunteers and helping people who are struggling to get the food they need. He has earned the nickname “Tetris Grand Master” for his skill in squeezing as much food as possible into every square inch of storage space.

Photo of Greta Bailey

Greta Bailey, Finance & Communications Coordinator

Contact Greta about:
Event Publicity | Monetary Donations | Social Media

Greta first joined the Friendship Center in 2015 and took on a larger role in 2020. She previously held accounting positions with small nonprofits and was the investment coordinator at National Covenant Properties. Greta graduated from North Park University and grew up attending Winnetka Covenant Church. She and her husband live in the western suburbs with their four children, one dog, one cat and two guinea pigs. In her free time, Greta enjoys gardening and spending time with her family and friends. She considers it an honor to work for the Friendship Center because she knows she’s making a real difference.