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Our People

A collective of practitioners

Catalyse is built around a core team and a wider group of trusted collaborators. We bring together strategists, facilitators, activators, creatives, researchers and evaluators to co-develop and deliver community centred approaches with you. We accelerate, resource, sustain and evolve the kinds of changes people collectively want in the places they live, work, play and/or invest in. 

with shared vision and true love for people and places

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As a team, we gather around opportunities to put our shared values into practice. We work to our strengths in ways that are bespoke to each project.  This enables us to co-create meaningful processes and outcomes with you. 

Catalyse is run by Denise Bijoux. With years of experience in community development, engagement, neighbourhood regeneration, research and evaluation, Denise founded Catalyse in 2014. Catalyse is designed to deliver on-the-ground projects as well as supporting local people, groups, organisations and systems to actively [re]make their places in ways that work better for them, and for the place itself. Our team and collaborators bring extensive lived experience as well as professional expertise to our work.

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Catalyse guarantees that the well-being of your community will be a top priority for everyone involved with your project.

Let's Meet The Team

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FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR

Denise Bijoux

I’m an optimist, very curious and always learning.

 

I like to be actively involved in my local community and, when I’m not at Catalyse, I am often tending the pollinator garden on my verge or harvesting from my garden to add to the sharing table by our front gate. I love to walk and cycle, learn from different people and enjoy art, music and nature. I am part of our local eco-neighbourhood and community hub. I find that many good things and people are often not so very far from our doorsteps. 

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Denise is a community activator with extensive practical and strategic experience in people-centred and locally-led transformation and community building.

Denise has a proven track record working with communities and groups as well as iwi, hapū, community organisations, government and businesses across Aotearoa. She has worked in community development since the early 1990s in roles focused on successfully activating local change, including in her own neighbourhood. 

 

Denise runs Catalyse and leads all our programmes, ensuring that our values are woven into the process at every stage and that everyone involved works to their full potential and strengths.

Denise holds a Masters degree in Human Geography from the University of Auckland. She was a recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2012 and travelled through the US and Canada exploring the influence of CLD approaches on wider systems change.  In 2013, Denise co-authored a book on locally-led change in Aotearoa called Learning by Doing.

 

Denise holds the philosophy that both processes and outcomes are more effective when we work collaboratively. She believes in investing in people as much as projects and enjoys sharing community-led approaches and experience from across Aotearoa. She believes passionately in community-driven change and development and that together we can create societies where everyone and every place can thrive. 

As part of her work with Catalyse, Denise is involved in a wide range of international, national and local programmes that support the transformation of communities across the country and globally.

Currently, Denise holds the roles:

Denise has also played active roles in

  • establishing  Gribblehirst Community Hub (Founding Chair, Trust Board Member - 2015-19)

  • coordinating The Exchange Collaborative (2016-18)

  • LinkedIn

Robin joined Catalyse in 2022 and is working on a range of projects including community engagement for Tagalad Reserve (Orakei Local Board), strategic planning and community engagement for Geraldine and Pleasant Point Community Boards (Timaru District Council) and support for our Placemaking Aotearoa work. She also leads our internal communications, social media, and website updating.

Robin comes from the U.S. (New York City) and has been in Tāmaki Makaurau for five years. She was a program manager at the Peabody Award-winning, international arts organization The Moth, for 6 years. The storytelling series she co-developed and managed took place in 25 cities throughout the world and was produced for podcast and radio. Since moving to New Zealand, she has had the privilege of learning about and connecting with communities in Aotearoa through her work with Social Ritual, Youthline, Kiwiburn, and more.

Get in touch with Robin:

robin@catalyse.co.nz

Robin is excited by creative solutions for communities and strangers alike. Coming together through support, self-expression, and meaningful connection is inspiring and energizing and she loves that there is a lot of that in her role at Catalyse.

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COMMUNICATIONS LEAD

Robin Wachsberger

"True, first-person, storytelling has been my driving inspiration in connecting with the world around me.

 

Whether communicated visually, on the page, or spoken word, I’ve been consistently delighted by the enrichment of hearing from and understanding diverse voices. Stories make the personal universal, and creating opportunities for voices to be heard gives me a deeper connection to the projects I support."

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PLACEMAKING LEAD

Paris Kirby

“I love problem solving and facilitating Human-Centered Design processes to support organisations, teams and communities to produce sustainable and purposeful solutions.

 

My role as Placemaking Manager is to develop and manage the implementation of a range of locally-led placemaking activations. These projects take place in ways that are valued by local people and which promote a sense of belonging, pride and community and enhance local village centres and precincts".

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Paris Kirby is an Artist, Creative Entrepreneur and Producer from Tāmaki Makaurau with specialist skills in public arts programming, placemaking, project management and community development. 

 

Paris has 10+ years of experience leading projects in the public sector with a focus on designing experiences that foster meaningful connections between people, places and initiatives. Her practice focuses on designing experiences that engage people in meaningful relationships with place. Her process often incorporates principles and frameworks that empower people through collaboration, co-design and participation.

Since her first project with Catalyse in 2019 she played a crucial role in supporting the development of placemaking practice at Catalyse and in the communities across Tāmaki Makaurau. She led the placemaking initiative across the Kāipatiki area in 2019-2021 and currently delivers the placemaking programme in Takapuna.

Get in touch with Paris:

paris@catalyse.co.nz

As well as her role at Catalyse, Paris also:

  • is studying for a Master of Design at The University of Auckland. Her thesis research is titled: Smart Cities in Practice: A Conceptual Proposal for the Human-Centered Design of Digital Placemaking in Aotearoa.

  • is a Founder and Director of Social Ritual

  • is an author of many beautiful artworks across Tāmaki Makaurau

  • LinkedIn
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PROJECT LEAD AND GROW SPACE MANAGER

Jason Dodunski

“ Connecting people, place, and nature”

One of the most rewarding elements of the work that I am involved with is the joy of connecting local people with the places they inhabit, and sharing the beauty and wonder of the natural world which surrounds us.

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Jason has been working with Catalyse since 2015 and has been part of teams that have made Placemaking Week (Eke Panuku) and Gribblehirst Community Hub happen. He is currently managing Grow Space part-time. 

 

Jason has lived in a number of cities across Aotearoa and abroad, making Tāmaki Makaurau home in recent years. He graduated from Auckland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Business with a double major in Sustainable Enterprise and Management. Jason is an experienced project manager who has worked across a range of community-led initiatives, involving diverse groups of local people. Jason is passionate about local food systems and regenerative urban farming and thrives on engaging with, and bringing together, locals around sustainable lifestyles and growing local capacity to support projects which foster resilience at both an individual level and neighbourhood scale.

Jason is a keen gardener and foodie, and a firm believer in collaboration and shared learning. He sees huge opportunities for small individual changes to make cumulative impacts with respect to climate action over the next few years because this is the critical timeframe we have to make a difference.

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PROJECT SUPPORT (South Island)

Rachel Welton

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““I have learned that, as Greta Thunberg says,
you are never too small to make a difference.”

Rachel is a founding member of Hampden Community Energy (HCE) and has been a property manager for over 30 years. Formerly a school teacher, she grew up in Geraldine and has a passion for the sustainable management of her 8 acre block in Hampden, Otago. Rachel is actively involved in local waste management via the local Resource Recovery Centre, which the HCE group manages.

Rachel is constantly on the lookout for something new and joined Catalyse in 2022. She provides support to our community engagement processes and strategic work in the South Island. Rachel is keen to be part of planning lasting, meaningful change that assists local areas to reach their potential and involves local people. She enjoys bringing her diverse range of skills and experience to her work with Catalyse and loves learning new things along the way.

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ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

Lucy Mason

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“I'm very passionate about social change and truly believe this has to happen from the ground up.

 

The personal is political and community-led initiatives are a great way to enact change at a grassroots level.
I am lucky to be involved with work that aligns closely with my own personal values.“

Lucy joined Catalyse in 2022 and is working on a range of projects including community engagement for Tagalad Reserve (Orakei Local Board), strategic planning and community engagement for Geraldine and Pleasant Point Community Boards (Timaru District Council) and support for our Placemaking Aotearoa and Grow Space work.

 

Lucy has lived in Tāmaki Makaurau her entire life and has seen first-hand the city grow and change. Lucy graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts, where her interest in society and culture led her to major in Anthropology. After graduating, she spent time traveling through Europe. Once settled back in Tāmaki Makaurau, she worked in hospitality before moving into her role at Catalyse.

Get in touch with Lucy:

lucy@catalyse.co.nz

She is looking forward to applying concepts learned in her degree, such as fieldwork, to real life examples and helping to affect positive change within communities.

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CREATIVE SUPPORT

Tauma Lobacheva

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“I love people and believe that
empathy and connection - are the keys

to creating a better world

Any small changes could start with one person,

but if there are many - the whole pattern of life
could be different. I am inspired by the changes Catalyse makes and I feel lucky to be a part of it.

 

Lucy joined Catalyse in 2022 and is working on a range of projects including community engagement for Tagalad Reserve (Orakei Local Board), strategic planning and community engagement for Geraldine and Pleasant Point Community Boards (Timaru District Council) and support for our Placemaking Aotearoa and Grow Space work.

 

Lucy has lived in Tāmaki Makaurau her entire life and has seen first-hand the city grow and change. Lucy graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts, where her interest in society and culture led her to major in Anthropology. After graduating, she spent time traveling through Europe. Once settled back in Tāmaki Makaurau, she worked in hospitality before moving into her role at Catalyse.

Get in touch with Lucy:

lucy@catalyse.co.nz

She is looking forward to applying concepts learned in her degree, such as fieldwork, to real life examples and helping to affect positive change within communities.

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People we trust and enjoy working with to collectively make Aotearoa a flourishing and caring place.

 

Each of our team also has projects beyond our Catalyse work. We believe this enriches our collaborative practice and helps all of us to learn from each other and continually improve. 

Recent collaborators

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fresh concept
inspiring communities
The Open Fort
Talk.
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Synergia
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The Good Fale
Jeder Institute
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No nonsense way of bringing people together

Denise from Catalyse has the natural ability to cut through the hype and jargon to support individuals and communities to discover and understand the richness and abundance of their own backyards. Her no nonsense and passionate way of bringing people together is evident through the incredible projects she has been a part of and the loyalty and appreciation of those she continues to support is shown by the relationships she maintains with them. Denise has a fantastic way of reframing difficult concepts so that people feel they can see themselves as part of the solution. She is a deep thinker, listener and an inspiring practitioner. Jeder is both honoured and humbled to be able to call Denise a partner, colleague and a good mate!

 — Dee Brooks

ABCD Asia Pacific Trainer and Facilitator at Jeder Institute