Emily Thielmann

Senior Director

Champion of inclusive process. Dreamer-doer combo special. Social change visionary. Lover of spy stories. Citizen of the world. Snack queen.

Emily Thielmann (she/her) is a Senior Director with Third Plateau, where she works to support clients across the country in advancing bold visions for social change. As part of an array of client work at Third Plateau, Emily is Deputy Director of the Democracy Funders Network, a cross-ideological learning and action community for donors concerned about the health of American democracy. Emily comes to Third Plateau with a background in youth and community engagement and cross-sector systems change. She specializes in building inclusive decision-making processes that center the voices of those most affected by social problems, facilitating conversations toward adaptive solutions, and building networks for social change. She is energized every day by a love of people, a penchant for creative problem solving, and a vision for a more equitable world.

Prior to Third Plateau, Emily spent seven years with the Cutler Institute’s Youth & Community Engagement team at the University of Southern Maine. There, she worked to leverage opportunities for youth and community-led systems change at the local, regional, and national levels in order to improve long-term outcomes for youth and families, especially those facing barriers to education or employment. Emily co-founded and directed the award-winning initiative, Portland Empowered, which created a platform for over 500 of the students and parents most under-represented in decision-making in Maine’s largest and most diverse school district to drive local education reform. She also worked for six years as part of the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund to help design and facilitate an ambitious cross-sector effort to advance policy and practice change on behalf of disconnected youth in Maine.

Before the Cutler Institute, Emily worked in a smattering of grassroots organizing, education, and youth development roles in Maine, Virginia, New York, Michigan, and Indiana. Emily spent her childhood living in the Soviet Union, Virginia, and Brazil.

Emily holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Vassar College and a Master’s in Public Policy and Management from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. She is a Speaker Emeritus with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Speakers Bureau on Education Innovation. She enjoys traveling with or to see friends and family scattered around the globe (when allowed), pretending to be a long-distance runner, and reading four to seven books at a time. She lives in the East Bay with her husband and daughter.