Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel was born in 1969 in Oberstdorf and grew up in Giessen. He studied agricultural sciences followed by political sciences at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. After completing his studies, he stayed on at the university and worked as a research associate for the International Relations Chair of the Institute of Political Science. He then worked for the city administration of Giessen as a research associate.
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel joined the SPD while he was still at school. In 2003, he was elected to the state parliament of Hesse where, among other roles, 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 all political offices prior to joining GIZ. He has been a member of the GIZ Management Board since October 2019, and Chair of the Management Board since November 2022.
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 represents GIZ on the Broadcasting Council of Deutsche Welle and on the Board of Directors of sequa gGmbH. He is also a member of the Rhineland-Palatine’s Future Council for Sustainable Development, on the Policy Board of the National Urban Development Policy and a member of the Japanese-German Forum.
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel is married and has two daughters and a son. He lives with his family in Lich, Hesse.