Theresa Amatofounded the Illinois-based Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) in late 1993, opened the CAC publicly in 1994, and served as its first executive director for eight years. Theresa has spent nearly three decades as a litigator, advisor, counsel, of counsel, in-house counsel, general counsel, or executive director in various nonprofit, for profit and political entities. She is currently counsel at Shearman & Sterling, a global law firm. Amato grew up in the CAC’s service area, graduated at the top of her class from Lake Park High School, and with honors from Harvard University in 1986 with a degree in both Government and Economics, and from the New York University School of Law in 1989, where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar, served as the Senior Notes and Comment Editor of the NYU Law Review, and was the recipient of the Orison S. Marden Award for first place oralist in NYU’s moot court competition and the Vanderbilt Medal for “extraordinary contributions to the School of Law.”
After a federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable Robert W. Sweet in the Southern District of New York, Amato first litigated at Public Citizen Litigation Group from 1991-1993, where she was the director of the Freedom of Information Clearinghouse in Washington D.C. From 2001-2003, Amato ran Citizen Works, a national nonprofit organization, and returned to it from 2009-2015 to co-found the Fair Contracts project to educate about and reform fine print consumer contracts.
From 2013-2015, She served as the Distinguished Scholar in Residence and an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and on its Board of Regents, and currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies, and on its Consumer Law Review. She also taught a course on Mobilizing for Justice in the Justice Studies Department for four years as an adjunct instructor at NEIU. In the 90’s, Amato was a member of the League of Women Voters in Elmhurst, and later became the co-president of the Oak Park-River Forest League of Women Voters from 2009 – 2011, then the largest local League in the state. Amato is a former executive director of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, and serves on the boards of other nonprofits.
In 2000 and 2004 Amato was the national campaign manager for two presidential campaigns outside of the two major parties, and in 2000 produced the largest vote for a progressive third-party candidate since 1924. The New York Times profiled Amato in its Public Lives section, and in 2009, The New Press in New York published her book on the barriers to entry for independents and third parties to participate in the political process.
Amato has appeared in media outlets around the world, and speaks to audiences about building democracy, transparency, human rights, corporate power, professional responsibility, electoral reform, and advancing justice. In 1988, Amato was named a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School, and in 2002, she was selected as a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she led a seminar entitled “Mobilizing for Justice: How to Take on the System and Make a Difference.” On February 21, 2001, she was the featured speaker at the Harvard Law Forum on Bridging the Democracy Gap.
Amato has received both NYU’s and Loyola University of Chicago Law School’s Public Interest Awards. In 1997, The American Lawyer named Amato, at age 32, as one of “the 45 young lawyers under 45 outside of the private sector whose work is changing lives.” She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.