Sheila O'Grady is stepping down as president of the Illinois Restaurant Association after serving in the position for the past five years. O'Grady sent out an email late on Thursday announcing her departure, saying that she has taken a position with executive search firm Spencer Stuart to do consulting work in its Chicago office. Her last day with the IRA will officially be May 1.
O'Grady, a former chief of staff under Mayor Richard M. Daley, is credited with creating Chicago Gourmet as well as overturning the city's foie gras ban. "We have accomplished many wonderful things. We did our best to protect, promote, educate and improve the restaurant industry in Illinois," O'Grady wrote in the email. "We fought, and won, tough legislative battles. We provided a variety of programming. I am extremely proud of creating and growing Chicago Gourmet, which has become one of the greatest food and wine events in the country." No replacement for O'Grady has yet been announced.