Our Mission: Provide a high quality, patient-centered, integrated system of care for all.
Our Vision: Achieve the best health outcomes for the individuals, families and the communities we serve.


From its launch in 1997 to its present network of community health centers, Friend Health has provided primary health care services to the vulnerable and medically underserved populations in a manner that is accessible, affordable, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate. Friend Health ensures that patients have access to a full-range of primary and preventive health care services as well as the necessary supplemental services which are either delivered directly or through established arrangements or referrals.

Friend Health was developed by the Friend Family Foundation through funding from the Michael Reese Health Trust, which enabled the merger of two University of Chicago clinical practices – the Woodlawn Infant Clinic and a clinic housed at Friend Health’s current flagship location on the University of Chicago campus. In 1998, Friend Health became a federally qualified health center (FQHC) and soon after expanded its services to additional Chicago communities. A significant number of the census tracts within its service area are designated as Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), which are characterized by insufficient numbers of health care providers.

In December of 2017, Human Resources Development Institute, Inc. (HRDI) merged into Friend Health. Founded in 1974 by Dr. C. Vincent Bakeman and Mrs. Doris M. Lomas, HRDI is a leading provider of behavioral health services in Chicago addressing alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, youth and family services, community health, case management, HIV/AIDS, and gambling addiction. Since 2003, HRDI has also provided services to adult individuals with developmental disabilities in Alabama.

Board of Directors

Friend Health’s governing board provides leadership and guidance in support of the health center’s mission. A majority of our board members are served by the health center and, as a group, represent the patients we serve.

Sean Harden, Chairman
Carlos Meyers, Vice-Chairman
Maria McManus, EdD, Secretary
Joanne Glenn, RN, MBA

Dr. Clifford Claiborne
Judy Juarez, PhD
Afrika Porter
Ethel Hall-Langworthy
Regina Moffett
Sabrina Patch, Esq.
Dr. Andre Rawls
Jewel Thompson

Executive Leadership Team

Verneda Bachus, DHA, MBA, Chief Executive Officer

Verneda Bachus has served as CEO of Friend Health since July 2013. Ms. Bachus previously served as President/CEO of Swope Health Services (SHS), a federally qualified health center located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Prior to joining SHS/SCE, Ms. Bachus served as president of a management consulting firm specializing in business consulting, human resources management, professional development training/coaching, and executive placement.
Ms. Bachus holds an MBA and MA from Webster University of St. Louis, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Washburn University. Ms. Bachus is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources and a Certified Compensation Professional.

Wendy Thompson, Chief Operating Officer

Wendy Thompson joined Friend Family Health Center in May 2016. Wendy previously served as Chief Officer of Strategy & Development. Prior to joining Friend Health, she served as Deputy Chief Officer at Chicago Public Schools and spent more than ten years in finance with Aon Corporation, and Goldman Sachs. Wendy holds a Master of Business Administration, as well as a Bachelor of Arts, Economics from the University of Chicago. With over 20 years of experience, she has a keen ability to evaluate risks and opportunities as well as manage complex organizational systems.

James Bendt, Chief Organizational Development Officer

James joined Friend Health in August 2020 and has more than 30 years of business and leadership experience. Mr. Bendt previously served as Vice-President of Services and Senior Business Coach for Six Disciplines, a Business Management System solution, and Coaching Organization. He has extensive organizational development experience around Strategic Planning, Change Management, Organizational Alignment, Execution Management and Leadership Development working across multiple industries including Healthcare. He also has held several Call Center Support Senior Leadership roles. James holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Sioux Falls.

Eric Campbell, Chief Compliance Officer

Eric joined Friend Health as the Chief Compliance Officer in June 2021 and has more than 20 years of experience. Prior to joining Friend Health, Eric was Senior Director of Compliance for Centene Corporation's Meridian Health Plan and Market Compliance Officer supporting WellCare Health Plan's compliance program. He also served as Director of Compliance at Aetna Better Health. Eric holds a Master's degree in Health Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and Bachelor of Arts degree in International Law from Chicago's DePaul University.

Debra Gonzalez, PhD, Chief Patient Experience Officer

Mark Arthur, Chief Human Resources Officer


Friend Family Health Center, Inc receives HHS funding and has Federal Public Health Service (PHD) deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and it's covered individuals.