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Our Team

We are an international group of practitioners who deliver complexity-aware research, customised training, and programs which always put people at the centre. Our work inspires you to think differently about development solutions and social change processes and are based on building trust, giving voice and listening to those people for whom development interventions are intended.

Empatika has a core team of twelve researchers and trainers connected with a larger community of practice which includes trained researchers in six countries.

Core Team Members

Debora Tobing


Debora has 20 years experience in the development sector where she has gained significant experience in project management, research, monitoring and evaluation, along with training development. She is a founding member of Empatika and currently serves as Empatika’s Executive Director where she manages the everyday operations of the company and leads implementation of the business and strategic plans for the organization.

Debora Tobing


Deborah has experience designing, leading, and implementing qualitative and mixed-methods studies based on immersion and participatory approaches and processes such as transformative digital storytelling and people-driven design covering a range of sectors including basic services, education, the environment, and other social issues. She feels it is important to undertake research in communities herself so that she can continue to learn from people, stay grounded, and relevant.

Outside Empatika, Deborah also works as a consultant for a project managed by SIIAP SIAGA with Palladium Indonesia and as a consultant for the IFAD Independent Office of Evaluation to support their Indonesia Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation. She finds that the art of doing nothing is the best way to approach her time outside of work.

Frisca Tobing


Frisca has extensive experience in qualitative research across Indonesia. She is particularly drawn to research that aims to understand people's behaviour related to health; evaluating program impact on communities; and women's roles in environmental management. Frisca holds a Master's degree in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from Australia National University. As one of Empatika's lead researchers, Frisca has led studies covering a range of topics, including knowledge, attitudes, and practices surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and lead pollution in Indonesia.

Frisca Tobing


Frisca's experiences across different mixed methods studies and projects have also helped Frisca to become a thoughtful reviewer and observer. With these skills and her attention to detail, Frisca has become one of Empatika’s Quality Assurance Coordinators.

Prior to joining Empatika, Frisca was engaged in research related to gender and forests, and served as a trainer for qualitative and quantitative research. Outside Empatika, Frisca is involved to support Scholar Reef, a program by Biorock Indonesia to build capacity and awareness of young people related to coral reef rehabilitation. Frisca enjoys listening to good music and watching blue skies whenever they show up in Jakarta, as both provide her space for mindful moments. She occasionally finds time to bake brownies or anything to satisfy her sweet tooth. 

Iqbal Abisaputra


Iqbal is an experienced participatory researcher and programs expert. He has co-led research teams in Ethiopia which involved training a new local research team and undertaking immersion research. His Psychology Degree from the University of Indonesia inspired him to be curious and experimental with approaches like human behaviour change programming. He has managed and facilitated many people-driven design projects, immersion-based research studies, and Digital Storytelling exercises in both Indonesia and Nepal. 

Iqbal Abisaputra


​​Iqbal is one of Empatika’s co-founders and currently Director of Programs. He believes that good programming means putting the poor and marginalized at the center of program design and implementation, which builds both ownership and sustainability. 

Prior to joining Empatika, Iqbal worked as campaigner and researcher for Greenpeace Southeast Asia on the Zero Deforestation Campaign, at the Orangutan Foundation with communities in Kalimantan, as well as with indigenous people in Sumatra. Recently, he worked with the IFAD Independent Office of Evaluation to support the Indonesia Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation. He is proud to now hold a PADI open water diving license.

Rizqan Adhima


Rizqan is a qualitative researcher with expertise in participatory action research approaches and methodologies, including immersion research, human centered design, digital storytelling, and participatory video. He holds a BA in Politics from Universitas Indonesia and has eight years of experience in qualitative research. He is an eclectic and pluralist researcher with experience covering topics ranging from social assistance, education, health, youth employment, migration, and climate change.

Rizqan Adhima


Riz is a founding member and a Senior Researcher for Empatika. He has extensive field research experience across Indonesia and has been a trainer for researchers in Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ghana and has co-led research teams in these countries. He is passionate in facilitating people to solve problems through empathetic, human-centered design and behavioral change communication. Outside Empatika, Riz teaches Design Anthropology at the Trisakti School of Multimedia and co-leads climate change action research for Kertabumi Recycling Center. He brings to his work a curiosity to innovate and a deep appreciation of complexity in context. Sometimes he writes poems and enjoys surfing.

Yeni Indra


Yeni Indra has over ten years of experience in development programs with a focus on research, program management and technical advisory. She has been involved in policy reform programs with various  international organizations, where she led and managed the implementation of short and medium-term policy reform programs in Indonesia. Yeni has a degree in economic and social science from Bogor Agricultural University. Over the past few years she has also developed extensive experience facilitating participatory approaches including for people-driven design.

Yeni Indra


Yeni has a strong capacity to work with both the private sector and the government. She has used her good knowledge and understanding of the Indonesian government for program development as well as partnership and capacity building for local governments, including through public private partnerships. In the area of policy and regulatory reform, much of her work focuses on Green Building with extensive experiences in regulation analysis, drafting and implementation, some of which has been enacted in Jakarta, Bandung and Semarang. Currently she is active in the Global Building Performance Network (GBPN) as a Sub National Strategic Lead.

Yeni is one of Empatika’s most experienced field researchers for both quantitative and qualitative methods, which makes her a key contributor for mixed methods research design. Yeni’s previous experience includes work with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Worldbank Group, GIZ and UNHABITAT.

Invi Atmanegara


Invi Atmanegara is a research and communications consultant with expertise in peacebuilding, education, and sustainable development. She is passionate about gaining and sharing insights on critical issues in the hope of spreading awareness and connecting people with common goals. She has 10 years of professional experience and holds a Master’s degree in Peace and Reconciliation Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management.

Invi Atmanegara


Invi started working with Empatika team members in 2016 as a Research Associate before joining Empatika’s core team in 2021 as a Senior Researcher. She has taken part in various research projects concerning education, public health, the environment, and post-disaster assistance. In addition to research, Invi assists with Empatika’s business development and knowledge management.

Outside Empatika, Invi is a member of Krisis Iklim, a group that formulates insights based on desk research and develops communication strategies to deliver knowledge on environmental concerns to young people in Indonesia. Over the past decade, she has worked in the UK, Spain, and various parts of Indonesia. Invi is currently based in Italy where she spends her free time with her husband visiting a variety of parks to gain inspiration, and plays fetch with their hyperactive dog.

Denny Firmanto Halim


Denny has more than a decade of experience working directly with people and communities through research and program implementation. He is a founding member of Empatika, and oversees Empatika's research, training, and program activities as the organization’s Director of Operations.

Denny Firmanto Halim


Denny is very passionate about putting people and communities at the center of solutions, and believes that true sustainability and changes can be achieved through equal partnerships with people. This is reflected through his participatory research work for the private and public sector in Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Uganda, as well as in his programme implementation experience using People-Driven Design in 10+ provinces in Indonesia. This work has centered on improving people's wellbeing through solutions oriented around livelihoods, education, health, post-disaster relief, the environment and social assistance. In his other work, Denny currently oversees livelihood, technology, and capacity building projects in Bali and Papua New Guinea. Denny is also a highly experienced translator.

Danielle Stein


Danielle Stein is an experienced research, evaluation, and monitoring expert with a particular focus on supporting programme improvement through evidence and learning. She holds an MSc in Global Politics from the London school of Economics and has thirteen years of experience leading both long and short-term assignments for bilateral and multilateral donors. In this time, she has focused on developing programme assessment and research processes based on human-centered and participatory approaches. Danielle is also a leading practitioner in the field of theory of change and behaviour-changed oriented programme theory, which she has published on in the American Journal of Evaluation.

Danielle Stein


Danielle is a founding member of Empatika and currently serves as Empatika’s Research Director. She has extensive experience leading and implementing qualitative and mixed-methods studies based on immersion-based and participatory processes covering a range of sectors including basic services, gender-based violence, security and justice. This experience includes formative research, developmental and impact evaluations, as well as human-centered design approaches oriented toward programme design. Her work spans 25+ countries with a specific focus on Indonesia, southern Africa, South Asia, and the Levant.

In her work outside Empatika, Danielle currently co-leads the Brave Movement Accountability and Learning Initiative focused on advocacy and childhood sexual violence and advises the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office on monitoring, evaluation and learning globally. Previously, Danielle was a Manager at Palladium’s Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Practice, where she oversaw the design and implementation of multi-million-pound evaluation programming.  Prior to this she served as a Research Fellow with the Asia Foundation in Nepal and at the Justice and Security Research Center at the London School of Economics.  She speaks French and Spanish and lives in South Africa where she enjoys wine and pottery.

Neha Koirala


Neha Koirala has twelve years of experience implementing qualitative and mixed-methods research for development programmes. She has focused on participatory and people-driven research approaches that integrate elements of inclusion, informality, and a respect for people’s own spaces to facilitate interactions that are both in-depth and fun. Neha holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

Neha Koirala


Neha is one of the co-founders of Empatika and, as the Director of Training, coordinates the development and implementation of Empatika’s people-centered training courses. She has extensive experience leading implementation and analysis of immersion and participatory-based qualitative and mixed-methods studies in South Asia, Africa and Indonesia covering a range of themes like post-disaster recovery, social assistance, education, and health.

Neha has worked extensively across Nepal, trying to get to know her country intimately by living with and getting to know people from different geographies and contexts — which her work as a researcher has also allowed her to do. She is currently based in Kathmandu where she lives with a husband, a dog, two turtles, and five fish. She refuses to let go of the child in her, mostly by staying 5 feet tall.

Steven Ellis


Steven is a practical coordinator, creative editor, tech problem solver, and atypical thinker who works as a researcher, facilitator, manager, and writer. Steven brings a commitment to continuous process improvement while challenging existing standards; documenting knowledge and learning; and exacting quality assurance. His diverse skill set also includes communications, graphic design, and IT. Steven has ten years of experience working with development organizations, including 8 years specializing in research and training. Passionate about building understanding and tolerance, Steven believes that people-centred approaches to research can empower while also highlighting both the uniqueness and interconnectedness that is present in every village and city.

Steven Ellis


One of Empatika’s founders, Steven served as one of its directors for three years and was critical to developing its systems and processes. He is one of Empatika’s Lead Researchers and Project Directors, is a trained digital storytelling facilitator, and is currently helping to oversee communications and knowledge management. Steven has led Empatika studies in Indonesia and Uganda on topics including nutrition and hygiene, farming and market access, and post-disaster assistance.

Steven is interested in community-based projects and outside of Empatika is helping to develop a social enterprise that partners with traditional artisan communities and sustainable tourism in Eastern Indonesia. Along with two friends in Jakarta, Steven established a community space and book shop in one of the city’s traditional markets. His other experience spans a range of fields, from architecture and teaching to energy and technology. In addition to his work with Empatika, Steven is currently completing a MSc in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Texas. Steven hails from Eureka, California but has called Indonesia home since 2012 when he picked up and moved. Besides watching his wife perform live on the piano, scenic drives, strange music, and baking chocolate chip cookies provide respite.

Krisman Pandiangan


Krisman Pandiangan is a committed qualitative researcher with more than 15 years of experience providing research and evaluation services as well as supporting research-based program design. He holds a Master’s Degree in Knowledge Management from the University of Indonesia, and has extensive experience implementing participatory research and action research projects, including facilitating people-driven design processes.

Krisman Pandiangan


Krisman is a Senior Researcher with Empatika and is involved in research implementation, mentoring and coaching related to immersion-based and people-driven design approaches. He has particular experience on topics related to education, health and migration, as well as programs focused on children and has worked in more than 30 provinces across Indonesia.

Outside Empatika, Krisman is Lead Facilitator for an advisory group that advises the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health on organization development and human resources. Krisman was also involved in establishing an organization which fights discrimination toward people affected by leprosy, and he remains active in supporting its current campaigns and advocacy activities. Personally, Krisman also has great interest in supporting child literacy and is actively involved in the “Fill the Library Movement,” a movement that collects books from individuals and publishers and donates them to school libraries in underprivileged and remote areas.

Yenni Magdalena


Yenni Magdalena is an experienced accountant with expertise in finance, budgeting, auditing and accounting, including the implementation of financial systems and financial monitoring and control. Lena has a degree in accounting from STIE Perbanas, is a Certified Accountant (CA) from Atma Jaya University,  and is a member of the Indonesian Accountants Association (Ikatan Akuntan Indonesia). Lena joined Empatika in early 2020.

Yenni Magdalena


Lena joined Empatika in early 2020. Along with her duties as Finance Coordinator, Lena has overseen Empatika’s transition to a new accounting system as part of improving our accounting processes and project tracking capabilities. Lena also led the process for Empatika’s first external audit, which was successfully completed in early 2021.

Lena loves reading books, especially fiction about criminals! She likes to bake and has become skilled at making cookies or anything that her daughter requests. She also cherishes the time she gets to spend with her family and friends.

Associate Consultants

Annette Fisher

Annette is a freelance practitioner and researcher with an academic background in governance, conflict studies and participation approaches and has recently completed a second Masters degree in action research methodologies at IDS (UK). Annette has over ten years of experience in the fields of voice and accountability, youth advocacy and human rights and has lived and worked across North Africa, the Middle-East, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Annette was part of a team which commissioned the first Reality-Check Approach study in two provinces in Pakistan (conducted by Empatika) on maternal and child health and completed the RCA Training Level 1 as part of this process, she has also supported participatory research in Sindh focused on adolescent girls. As part of a previous role, Annette led an immersion study in Bangladesh with the Grameen Bank.

Annette has experience working with communities in a range of countries to support them to hold their governments to account for more responsive services to citizens. She has also designed and implemented interventions to strengthen accountability systems and participatory community-based mechanisms for monitoring service delivery. Annette is currently conducting participatory action research into community monitoring and accountability in Gujarat, India with a local social movement and will be starting an action research based PhD in 2019 with IDS.

Dee Jupp

Dee Jupp PhD is Empatika's former Technical Advisor. Now, as an Associate Consultant, she provides small advisory inputs for projects and training on request. She has over thirty five years of participatory development and qualitative research experience. She specialises in the conceptualisation and facilitation of complexity-aware processes to encourage community engagement in design, implementation and evaluation, in particular promoting community-led approaches. She has been a practitioner and advocate of immersion research for over fifteen years when she first promoted it in Bangladesh in 2006 as the reality check approach within the multi-donor primary education and primary health programmes. Now based in UK in semi-retirement, she has lived and worked for extensive periods in Bangladesh, Jamaica and Indonesia helping Governments, NGOs, Social Movements and community-based organisations to put ordinary people at the centre of development through creative use of participatory approaches. Over recent years she has focused on building local capacity to undertake immersion studies and other complementary participatory approaches, especially in Ghana, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Bangladesh and Nepal and to expand the use of immersion research in people-driven design.

Sherria Ayuandini

Over the last 10 years, Sherria has designed and led studies on social issues, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender and women, migration and mobility, poverty and vulnerable communities, health and medicine, as well as on children and adolescents’ life and rights. She has worked with multinational organizations such as UNICEF, the World Bank, and Australian Aid providing policy-oriented project reports, informing programme interventions and designing and developing research and capacity building programmes. She has led both qualitative and quantitative research teams in Indonesia, Ghana, Uganda, the United States and the Netherlands. Sherria has regularly led teams of international researchers in multiple countries to conduct immersion research studies and has actively engaged on national government policy dialogue. Her academic research brought together medical anthropology, gender, sexual and reproductive rights and migration, pioneered inclusion of patient voices and perspective on this particular topic and is published in Social Science and Medicine, Culture, Health and Sexuality and Nations and Nationalism.

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