Paul Thelen

Adjunct Faculty Member
Director, Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center

Paul Thelen (07JD) is the director of the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center and adjunct faculty member at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Paul’s primary focus is building the leadership, governance, and management capacities of individuals, organizations, and networks across the state. Iowa is home to more than 31,000 nonprofit corporations. Approximately 1 in 11 Iowans is employed at a nonprofit entity, and over 740,000 Iowans volunteer each year. 

Paul has designed and delivered hundreds of workshops, conference sessions, CLEs, and additional programs for nonprofit board members, executive staff, and professionals who serve the sector. Feedback from participants is consistently glowing, and he is invited to return to events year after year. Since 2015, Paul has also served on the conference planning committee for the Iowa Nonprofit Summit. This two-day, statewide conference attracts nationally recognized speakers and over 400 participants.

In FY2023, the Center served 874 entities from across the state. Paul leads dozens of projects each year focused on board development, strategic planning, executive transitions, and more. Clients range from new organizations to emerging entities to established organizations with a focus on arts, culture, economic development, education, environment, health, human services, international affairs, religion, and more.  

At Iowa Law, Paul teaches two nonprofit courses each year. Paul invites around ten guest speakers per year, including distinguished alumni and nationally recognized experts. In 2020, Paul created and led the center’s Summer Research Associate Program, and it has attracted top undergraduate and graduate students from across the university.

Paul is co-founder and current vice-president of the Iowa Nonprofit Alliance—Iowa’s first statewide nonprofit membership association. He serves on the advisory board for the university’s Master’s in Public Affairs Program, and he is a member of the Iowa Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Paul is a first-generation college graduate and first-generation law school graduate. He grew up on his family’s farm in rural western Iowa. He earned a BA & BFA from Creighton University and a JD from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Paul Thelen headshot
Creighton University, BA, BFA
Iowa Law, JD