Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

One of our own, Theresa Williamson ’97, returns to talk about community development in Rio de Janeiro

Theresa Williamson ’97 graduated with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies, and she is coming back home to tell us about her work with Catalytic Communities, a development organization she founded and directs. Come to her talk on December 5 in the Scheuer Room.

Catalytic Communities: Entrepreneurship in Community Development in Rio de Janeiro

A Talk by Theresa Williamson ‘97

Theresa Williamson '97
Theresa Williamson '97

Monday, December 5, 2011

4:30 p.m.

Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall

(maps and directions)

Theresa Williamson will discuss her work after Swarthmore in creating Catalytic Communities (CatComm), a successful nonprofit organization supporting Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities. Founded in 2000, CatComm has provided communications, networking and training support to over 1500 leaders from over 250 different neighborhoods across Rio.

Since 2009 CatComm, has been increasingly recognized as a watchdog organization as Rio prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, and local officials begin intervening significantly in the city’s favelas.

Williamson will discuss the organization’s development with a particular emphasis on the organizational philosophy that made it possible to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing urban policy shift and evolving needs of its community partners, all within the setting of one of the most dynamic cities in the world today. Topics Williamson will include in her talk: Rio de Janeiro, slum upgrading, alternative and mainstream media, nonprofit management, urban planning, and dynamism.

Theresa Williamson received her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and has published articles in Progressive Planning, The Journal of Urban Technology, and Cidadania.org. Williamson is the founder and executive director of Catalytic Communities and received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore in Biological Anthropology.

CatComm has been working extensively around issues of forced evictions as Rio prepares for the Olympics.


Sponsored by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Peace and Conflict Studies, Alumni Relations, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Latin American Studies