Meet Elaine


Elaine Tholen has been a resident of Fairfax County for the past 25 years, and currently serves as Director and Treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.

A career educator, Elaine has worked in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and administrative offices in the Fairfax County Public School System (FCPS).

Elaine has a proven record of promoting state groups such as the Virginia Association of Environmental Educators and the VA No Child Left Inside Coalition to improve state education policy. Elaine currently chairs the state-wide Education Committee for the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Districts.


For eight years Elaine managed the Fairfax County Public Schools Get2Green Program. This district-wide, preK-12 program promotes environmental stewardship among students and staff.  She formalized regional and national partnerships to provide tools to schools to create student driven environmental action around topics such as: energy, waste reduction, transportation, wildlife habitat and sustainable food, etc.  She also coordinated efforts across instruction, facilities, food and nutrition, etc. to streamline procedures and support to schools and developed and implemented professional development programs for teachers and administrators. She managed the district Sustainability Team and led FCPS to having a nationally acclaimed Green School program.   

Tholen is a founder of NoVA Outside and has co-chaired their Student Environmental Action Showcase for the past 9 years.  The Showcase is hosted in collaboration with George Mason University and allows over 500 regional students to showcase their work.

With Elaine’s passion for inspiring young people, she is currently advising organizations in educational innovations to promote student environmental stewardship and civic engagement.  Prior to her work with FCPS, she worked 10 years for SAIC managing a staff focused on large environmental cleanups for the US Department of Energy. She also worked for a Wall Street firm in Manhattan and Tokyo in systems integration and program management

Tholen has BS in Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught middle school and high school field biology, life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences. Tholen also holds a MBA from the University of Maryland-College Park.  


She is currently a VA certified middle school science teacher.  She has a long list of awards for her volunteer and professional work in conservation landscaping and environmental education.   

She and her husband Jim, raised two young men along the banks of a stream that empties to the Potomac River.  The boys spent hours outside exploring and are successful graduates of Fairfax County Public Schools. One is now a filmmaker in narrative documentaries living in New York City and one is a civil engineer working on water infrastructure in Southern California.  In their spare time, Jim and Elaine can be found hiking or kayaking.