Cornelia Richter was born in Stuttgart in 1954. She studied economics and social science at the University of Göttingen, where she also successfully completed a course in economic and social psychology. In 1979 she took a postgraduate course at the German Development Institute (DIE).
Cornelia Richter began her professional career in 1980 as desk officer in the Planning and Research Division of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Two years later she moved to the Multilateral Affairs (UNCTAD, GATT, UNIDO) Division. From 1984 – 1989 she worked as economic advisor to the Government of Lesotho on behalf of the German Federal Government. In 1989, Cornelia Richter joined the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH as Director of the South Asia Division. In 1996 she was appointed Director General of the Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, and from 2002 to 2011 she headed GTZ’s Planning and Development Department. In 2011 she was appointed Director General of the Sectoral Department at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Cornelia Richter sits on numerous boards and committees. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the German Development Institute (DIE) and the advisory boards of the Foundation for Development and Peace, the Foundation of the childaid network and the European Inter-University Centre (EIUC). Cornelia Richter is also a member of the Board of the German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV) and member of the Presidium of the Business Association for Latin America (LAV).