Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Theresa Amato  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT Non-Fiction

Born: in Chicago, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Amato grew up in Chicago and is now based in the DC area with her spouse and two daughters.

Biographical and Professional Information

Theresa Amato is an award-winning public advocate and author who works to hold government and corporate power accountable. She has spent more than 25 years working from the local to the global, and across sectors in the nonprofit, for profit, political and advocacy arenas.In 1993, Amato founded the nationally-recognized, Illinois-based Citizen Advocacy Center to build democracy and served as its first executive director for eight years. She currently serves as its Board President. For more than twenty years, the CAC has pioneered community lawyering as it continues to train public interest advocates from its storefront suburban office.In both 2000 and 2004, Amato was the national presidential campaign manager, in-house counsel (2000) and General Counsel (2004) for Ralph Nader, producing with her team the highest vote count in the United States for a third-party progressive candidate since 1924, and shepherding myriad election reform efforts and litigation to open up the political system to competition.Amato is a manager of Amato & Main, LLC, through which she has provided consulting advice for independent, third-party and progressive presidential and congressional campaigns, nonprofit organizations and foundations. Amato has also served as a former co-president of the League of Women Voters of Oak Park/River Forest, and as a current board member of Citizens in Charge Foundation, the Center for Competitive Democracy, Citizen Advocacy Center and Citizen Works. Amato was the former president and executive director of Citizen Works, which she started with Ralph Nader in 2001 to advance justice by strengthening citizen participation in power and creating innovative public interest initiatives; for example, she launched in 2009, the Fair Contracts Project ( to reform the fine print in standard form contracts.Amato graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1986 with a degree in Government and Economics, and from New York University School of Law in 1989, where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar, an executive board editor of the Law Review, and the recipient of the Orison S. Marden for first place oralist in moot court competition and of the Vanderbilt Medal for “extraordinary contributions to the school of law.”

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