Raised initially in Elmwood Park, Battista and his family then moved to the nearby Galewood area of Chicago, near Grand and Harlem. He attended Lane Tech High School in Chicago and received his B.A. in political science, with a minor in business, from Western Illinois University, where he also completed graduate studies in American government. Graduate school lead to an internship in Washington, D.C., with Congressman Henry J. Hyde. He received his juris doctorate from Loyola Law School in May of 1983.
As to why he became an attorney, Battista says: “I gravitated toward the law as a young person. I think my father would have been a lawyer — a great one, had his family been able to support such a vocation.”
Obviously, Tom’s father had a profound effect on him as a young man and influenced his innate leadership traits. “I developed a perception of government that was honorable and decent because of my father.” Tom’s respect for government and government service is evidenced by some of his career choices: service in the office of the Illinois Attorney General, Special Litigation Division (1981-1987); chief of prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (1987-1989), senior policy advisor and chief counsel to the chairman of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (1989-1996), and deputy director of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (1996-2002).
Because of his dad’s political involvements, he was a role model for Tom and his brothers Jim and Mark. Tom served as a leader, not only in the Justinian Society but with the political voice of the Italian-American community in the Chicago area and the state of Illinois, our wonderful and hardworking Italian-American Political Coalition. He has served as a board member and officer of the IAPC, working his way up to the post of president, where he served ably from 2006 to 2008. “I especially enjoyed my IAPC leadership opportunity because it allowed me to serve my fellow Italian Americans in the government and political arena.”
His IAPC presidential successor, Ferdinand Serpe, says of his career friend and colleague Tom Battista: “Tom set the agenda of the IAPC, for the benefit of our ethnic community for the foreseeable future. He emphasized inclusion and participation, emphasizing greater election opportunities for Italian Americans in all branches of government, and especially the judiciary, where our community substantially lags in this area.”
Tom also served as the first president of the Justinian Society Children’s Endowment Foundation, a charity focused on the needs of children.
Battista was one of the more respected presidents of the highly regarded Justinian Society of Lawyers (2003-2004) where he provided leadership for more than 11 years, 10 as a member of its executive committee and six as an officer moving through the executive positions.
Of his Justinian presidency, distinguished past president and another giant of our legal and ethnic community, Michael V. Favia, says: “Not only did Tom Battista serve as a wonderful role model as president of the Justinians, he also spent his year focusing on the rudimentary things that never seem to get the attention of (usually ceremonial) presidents of these types of organizations. He focused on, among other more visible things, updated the decades-old and out-of-date by-laws; a renewed attention to the treasury and fund raising; increasing scholarship dollars to assist needy Italian-American law students; greater integration of this ethnic bar association with the traditional legal organizations, such as the Illinois State and Chicago Bar Associations.”
Battista entered the private practice of law in 2002, where he serves as senior associate with the highly respected Chicago law firm of Rock, Fusco and Associates, concentrating in the real estate assessment process, professional licensure and regulatory matters.
A resident of Chicago, he is married to the beautiful Cynthia and has two children: 5-year-old daughter Mia and son Michael, 21, who is a student at DePaul University.