Oak Park added a new local celebrity last week when Lee Mills McGrath was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of the Chicago area’s “40 Under 40.” 

The honor has been awarded annually by the business magazine for the last 25 years to Chicago-area business people under the age of 40 who stand out as leaders in their various fields.

McGrath, 38, was named by Crain’s for her position as the first president of Illinois Health Partners (IHP), a health network established in May 2011 through a partnership between DuPage Medical Group and Edward Hospital & Health Services.

The health network, which currently serves approximately 250,000 patients in Chicago’s suburbs, includes 1,800 physicians and four hospitals. The network has grown by leaps and bounds from its inception over three years ago, when IHP represented a mere 490 physicians and 80,000 patients. 

McGrath not only was named president of network but also served as one of the chief architects of the organization in her previous role as director of business development for DuPage Medical Group.

“We thought [the partnership] would make sense because the relationship between DuPage Medical Group and Edward Hospital & Health Services was strong,” McGrath said in a telephone interview. 

You couldn’t tell by her rapid-fire manner of speaking, but McGrath noted she spent much of her early youth at a hospital undergoing therapy for a speech impediment.

She said her aversion to blood steered her away from the medical profession, but her time spent in therapy as a child — a few days a week “for a really long time” — sparked her interest in health care. 

“I love health care and really want to keep the community happy and healthy,” she said.

A Rhode Island native, McGrath has been a Midwesterner for more than a decade, earning her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

She moved to Chicago in 2001 and has been in Oak Park since 2009. Her husband, Tom McGrath, was born and raised in Oak Park and is a graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School. The McGraths’ two children, Miles, 3, and Ben, 2, will likely be alums of their father’s alma mater, since Lee says they plan to stay in the village “for the long haul.”

Prior to her time at DuPage Medical Group, McGrath worked at DeLoitte Consulting, Humana, and Health Care Service Corp.

While she takes the honor of 40 under 40 seriously, McGrath laughed about the graphic below her photo in the business magazine plainly noting, “She’s a member of a knitting circle.”

She said she joined the circle of knitters in 2001, shortly after moving to Chicago. “I didn’t know many people, and I wanted to do something creative and fun,” she said.

McGrath said she has continued her friendship with the group for the last 13 years.

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