Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel was born in 1969 in Oberstdorf and grew up in Giessen, Germany. He studied agricultural sciences and political sciences at Justus Liebig University, Giessen. After completing his degree, he stayed on at the university and worked as a research associate for the International Relations Chair of the Institute of Political Science.
He entered the field of municipal administration as an advisor in the city of Giessen’s department for social and youth affairs (1998 to 2001). He then took on additional roles in Giessen’s municipal administration, including as a research assistant to the Lord Mayor.
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) while still at school and was involved with the SPD’s voluntary youth organisation, Jusos. He began his political career in 2001 as a district councillor for the district of Giessen. In 2003, he was elected to the state parliament of Hesse, where he was speaker for development policy in the SPD parliamentary group until 2008. In 2009, he became chair of the SPD party and the SPD parliamentary group in Hesse. In the same year, he was appointed deputy party chair of the SPD at the federal government level and, as co-chair, took over as acting leader of the SPD from June to September 2019. He stepped down from his political offices successively prior to joining GIZ.
His political fields of interest included education and mobility. As a member of the national board of the SPD, his responsibilities included taxation, finance, economic policy and international relations (Asia). In publications, he also examined the influence of digital transformation on the working world.
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel also holds a number of honorary posts. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rheingau Music Festival and is also a member of the Executive Committee of Gießener Hochschulgesellschaft e.V. (Giessen university association).
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel is married and has two daughters and a son. He lives with his family in Lich, Hesse.