Theresa Williamson founded Catalytic Communities (CatComm,, in 2000, and worked as Executive Director for seven years. Winner of the 2006 Tech Awards from the Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley, CatComm uses technology to link grassroots community groups in Rio de Janeiro and around the world so they can learn from each other's successes and support one another's work. In this role, she oversees all program strategy, development and activity. She is CatComm’s primary fundraiser (responsible for all major gift solicitations, small donor cultivation, and special events), liaison to the Board of Directors, and oversees staff responsible for day-to-day organizational management. Theresa is currently working in a part-time capacity transitioning the organization towards sustainability and a participatory culture.

In May 2004 Theresa received her Ph.D. from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Entitled Catalytic Communities: The Birth of a Dot Org, her dissertation won the 2005 Gill-Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning and was one of three finalists for the 2004 Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning. She has published articles from this dissertation and related research in Progressive Planning, The Journal of Urban Technology, and Prior to her doctoral research and decision to found CatComm, Theresa had been active in a number of movements for years, since the early age of 12. Theresa’s undergraduate degree was in Biological Anthropology, which took her to live a semester in Madagascar studying lemur thermoregulatory behavior. She also received undergraduate concentrations in Environmental Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies, from Swarthmore College. Though raised in the Washington, DC area, Theresa is a dual Brazilian and British citizen and lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with her husband and toddler daughter. They recently spent her husband’s sabbatical year (July 2007 – July 31st 2008) in Oxford, UK.

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