Life before politicsEdit
Thissen attended a Roman Catholic primary school in Roermond. Between 1969 and 1976 he attended the gymnasium at the Episcopal college in the same city. He graduated specializing in arts. Between 1976 and 1977 he was a member of the centre-left Labour Party. In 1977 however he switched to the more leftwing Pacifist Socialist Party. Betwedeen 1977 and 1982 he studied theology at the Higher School for Theology and Pastoral Studies in Heerlen. He reached his kandidaats examen (roughly equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts). Between and after his study he worked at the Limburg Centre for Development Cooperation. Between 1979 and 1985 he also was the Limburg provincial coordinator for peace activities and member of the naitonal working group for local peace groups of the oecumenical Christian pacifist Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad. After his study Thissen worked as an RE teacher at a secondary school. In this period he was chair of the Roermond PSP between 1982 and 1986.
Between 1986 and 2002 Thissen was a member of the Roermond city council. First for Roermond Left, an alliance the PSP and the progressive Christian Political Party Radicals and later for the GreenLeft in which both parties merged. Between 1987 and 1990 he returned to studying theology, now at the Catholic University Nijmegen. Thissen specialized in the ethics of the economy. He did however not finish he studies. In addition to his study Thissen also taught civics at a high school. Thissen was very active in the Roermond social movements and civil society. He served as a member of the board of Roermond branch of Stichting Vluchtelingenwerk, a foundation that helps refugees between 1987 and 1991. He also chaired the Roermond Anti-Discriminationbureau in 1988. In addition he was treasurer of the foundation Roermond Festival, between 1989 and 1994 and he chaired the board of the Roermond Cultural Youth Centre "De Azijnfabriek". He was also active in the GreenLeft. Between 1989 and 1994 as member of the Limburg provincial board and between 1989 and 1992 as a member of the GreenLeft national party council.
In 1992 worked as coordinator of a Roermond labour market reintegrationprogram for young people and after that was the director of the Roermond Recycling Centre. In 1994 he became alderman in Roermond, where managed the portfolios welfare, social security, education, culture and youth. As alderman he had a range of secondary functions in regional social affairs. Since 1998 he was a member of the delegation Association of Netherlands Municipalities with the ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. He also had some national secondary functions in the social sphere. He for instance chaired the national council for the project Heel de Buurt, which worked on urban renewal. He also became chairman of the board of Divosa, the national association of managers in the sphere of labour, income and care. Since 2001 he was suppleant of the Council for Work and Income. In 1998, 2002 and 2003 he was a member of the GreenLeft selection committee for the national elections.
In 2003 Thissen was candidate for the Eerste Kamer he received a sixth place on the list. In the elections the party only received five seats. In 2004 Mirjam de Rijk left the Eerste Kamer to become general director of the environmental organization Stichting Natuur en Milieu. Thissen replaced him. In the Eerste Kamer Thissen is active on the portfolios education, finance and health care. In 2007 the GreenLeft Congress made Thissen lijsttrekker for the Eerste Kamer-elections. He beat Yolan Koster-Dreese by a large margin.
- Tof Thissen on parlement.com
- Tof Thissen on eerstekamer.nl
- Tof Thissen on groenlinks.nlnl:Tof Thissen