Tom Foley was born and raised in Spokane, Wash. The son of a Superior Court Judge, he was educated by his father on the value of public service. Mr. Foley was educated at Gonzaga Prep, Gonzaga University and the University of Washington, culminating in a J.D. from the UW in 1957.
Mr. Foley started his law career by hanging a shingle in Davenport, Wash., with a cousin. In 1958, he started public service as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Spokane County. During the same period he taught at Gonzaga Law School. In 1960, he became an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington. Moving from state government to federal, Mr. Foley took a position as Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, where he stayed until his 1964 run for Congress to represent his hometown: Spokane.
Congressman Foley served the 5th Congressional District from 1965 to 1995. Over that period, he was honored to serve as the head of the Democratic Study Committee, Chair of the House Agricultural Committee, House Majority Whip, House Majority Leader and, ultimately, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995.
After Congress, Speaker Foley practiced law with the firm Akin Gump until 1997 when he was appointed as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton, a post in which he was honored to serve until 2001.
Speaker Foley has served on numerous national and international boards, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Asia Foundation, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, the Japan Center for International Exchange, the United States Japan Foundation and many others. In 2003, he was awarded the Washington State Medal of Merit by Washington Governor Gary Locke.