Wo we are

CatalyticAction is a charity that works to promote human rights through the use of strategic and innovative community-led spatial interventions.


What we do

CatalyticAction’s work aims at alleviating poverty and inequalities by empowering communities.
We work with communities to deliver projects that can go on to sustain themselves, therefore catalysing community resilience. We achieve this, by integrating our design and architectural skills with our experience in participatory engagement.
We use participatory methods as a tool to assess needs, implement solutions and monitor their impact.
We endeavour to challenge the status-quo, where marginalised groups can become dependent on long term aid, and instead work to produce self-sufficient and strong communities. We work in following three sectors:
- Shelter
- Child protection
- Education
While focusing mainly on these three sectors, our work also includes livelihoods programs.

We believe that small changes can result in a big impact.

Our team

Board of Trustees

Emanuela Rizzo

Emergency Programme Coordinator - Protection Advisor at HelpAge International

Emanuela has more than 6 years experience in programme management in the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, OPT) and East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti) with specific focus on protection issues. She is currently Humanitarian Programme Coordinator at HelpAge International and in the past she has worked for international organisations such as Terre des hommes and INTERSOS. Emanuela has strong track record in project delivery from both an execution and stakeholder management perspective ( linkedin ).

Andrea Rigon

Lecturer at University College of London

Andrea has a background in development studies and research, consultancy and project management experience in several countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bolivia and the Philippines. He lived in Kenya for nearly four years, working and researching in the informal settlements of Nairobi as a project manager for an NGO, consultant for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and as a research associate at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi ( linkedin ).

Andrew Hilton

Architect and Lecturer at Birmingham City University

Andrew Hilton RIBA ARB BA (Hons) Architecture, Dip Arch, PG (Dip) Architectural Practice. Andrew has 20 years professional experience working in Architecture and Urban Design with projects around the UK, Europe, Africa, Middle East and China. In 2008 he co-founded Urban Synthesis (UK) Ltd which has grown to have offices in UK and China delivering hundreds of hectares of socio-ecological and sustainable urban design and urban planning projects each year ( linkedin ).

Co-founders

Joana Dabaj

Principal Coordinator

Joana holds a BSc degree in Architecture from the American University of Beirut and an MSc in Building and Urban Design in Development from the University College of London. She has developed her experience around architecture, sustainable development, cultural heritage, migration and human rights across several contexts in Lebanon, UK, Syria, Iraq, Greece, Cambodia, Brazil, Colombia and Thailand. Her recent practice revolves around working closely with communities following a bottom up design approach ( linkedin ).

Riccardo Conti

Executive Director

Riccardo is an architect and urban designer with experience in research, design and planning in different countries such as Kenya, Cambodia, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK. He holds an MSc from University College London (UCL) in Building and Urban Design in Development. He co-founded the project “Mathare River” (www.mathareriver.wordpress.com). In Nairobi he worked as researcher and field project manager for Liveinslums NGO. Throughout his career he was able to experience various people centered design approaches ( linkedin ).

Laura Antona

Administrative Director

Laura holds a BSc from UCL in Urban Planning, Design and Management. After working with local authorities in the UK, she then went on to study Building and Urban Design in Development as an MSc, at the Development Planning Unit, UCL. Her academic research focussed largely on conflict, migration and social movements. She is currently completing a PhD at LSE; focussing on the rights of female domestic workers in cities. She has experience working in international settings, with NGO’s, community groups and governmental organisations ( linkedin ).


Members

Dima Mabsout

Artist

Dima Mabsout is an artist (BA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins, London) whose work particularly focuses on the educational and therapeutic values of the creative process as well as the power of art in catalysing social and political change. In 2012, she founded the “Naked Wagon”, a mobile platform that contests the nature of public space and promotes artistic interventions through collaboration and social initiatives. Dima's work in Lebanon involves teaching and training workshops in private, public, and refugee settings.

Allaa Barri

Fundraising Officer

Allaa is an international development practitioner, with a master’s degree from University College London (UCL), in Development Administration and Planning and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration from Damascus University. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Allaa has shown a huge interest in enhancing the refugees’ situation, especially focusing on the children. She has been involved with many activities in support of Syrian refugees since the crisis started in 2011 ( linkedin ).

Bisher Yazigi

Accountant

Bisher is Finance and Economics professional. He received his degree in Accounting & Finance from Damascus University, later he obtained a Master’s Degree in International Economics, his M.A. was an extraordinary joint program took place in three different universities in China, Belgium and Italy, all under the supervision of Erasmus Mundus. Bisher is now working for ‘National Bank of Kuwait/London’. He has NGOs’ finance experience gained through an internship with Minority Rights Group/London ( linkedin ).

Luca Astorri

Architect

Luca Astorri graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 2007 where he became Assistant Professor in 2009. After working with OMA / Rem Koolhaas between 2006 and 2008, he founded Argot; an architectural firm in Milan where he develops architecture and urban projects. Luca has also been collaborating with the NGO Liveinslums since 2010; where was responsible for architecture and research projects focusing on informal settlements in Cairo, Nairobi and San Paolo ( website ).

Carolina Antoinette Talavera

Anthropologist

Carolina is a doctoral student in medical anthropology at University of California, Berkeley. She completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology from University of California, Santa Cruz and then went on to receive her MSc in Medical Anthropology from University College London. Her primary research focus is on medical humanitarianism as it relates to gender, sexuality and the sex industry. Carolina has also spent the past several years working in health-related research projects in San Diego, San Francisco and Mexico ( linkedin ).

Matteo Zerbi

Architect

Matteo is an architect and urban designer holding an M.Sc.Arch. degree from Politecnico of Turin. He studied and worked in Italy, India, Argentina and United Kingdom and focused his personal interest and professional research in the vernacular architecture of South-East Asia and the slum upgrading in Buenos Aires. He is co-founders of H40 - Help for Optimism an NGO delivering water, sanitation and local medicine production programs in Madagascar ( linkedin ).

Ronan Glynn

Construction Supervisor

Ronan has a diverse career combining both construction and media production. His experience on site brings with it both practical implementation skills and pre-phase planning knowledge. Advising and assisting on implementing UK HSE guidance for safe systems of work. He works in London both in freelance media and construction management. His involvement with Catalytic Action started with Lebanon 2015. He has since become a valued input; assisting on taking projects through from the preliminary design stages to final implementation.