|The arrival of "Mittler" the mediator, in of Goethe's 1809 Elective Affinities (P1:C2), the human catalyst conceptualized character of the novella, able to resolve or mediate disputes and therein bring about bond formations, e.g. marriages.|
In 1809, German polyintellect Johann Goethe, in his physical chemistry based Elective Affinities, had the character Mittler, aka "the mediator", play the role of the human catalyst, a person with the ability to facilitate the formation of marriage bonds.
In 1914, American chemical engineer William Fairburn defined certain people as ‘catalysts’ facilitating other human chemical reactions, but not themselves being consumed. 
In 1948, human chemist Thomas Dreier devoted an entire chapter, entitled “The Business Executive as a Catalyst”, to the argument that: 
“Acting as a human catalyst is the essence of the executive’s job.”
In basing his chapter, Dreier quotes oil company executive Byrle Osborn, who when asked what his function is, replied "I hire all the engineers, lawyers, clerks, salesman and accountants that I need. They do the work. But I act as a sort of catalyst to make them work together smoothly. Every bit of friction costs money. I eliminate the friction."
In 1986,American chemical engineer Scott Fogler, in his Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, defined a human catalyst as such: 
“A catalyst is a substance that affects the rate of a reaction but emerges from the process unchanged. A man inciting a mob to riot and then ducking out before the tanks roll in can be regarded as a [human] catalyst.”
In 1987, American consultant Tom DeMarco, in the context of project chemistry or group chemistry, discussed the concept of the people, who don’t seem to add anything tangible to a project, as in not being a great developer, good tester, etc., can acting as catalysts in team projects, helping the projects to jell. In his own words: 
“The catalyst is important because the project is always in a state of flux. Someone who can help a project jell is worth two people who just do work.”
The following are related quotes:
“Teachers as catalysts? The link is misleading; / Forever we're changed after each classroom meeting.”— Mala Radhakrishnan (2016), Tweet (Ѻ), Dec 20
1. Dreier, Thomas. (1948). We Human Chemicals: the Knack of Getting Along with Everybody (“The Business Executive as a Catalyst”, pgs. 37-41). Updegraff Press.
2. Fairburn, William Armstrong. (1914). Human Chemistry. The Nation Valley Press, Inc.
3. (a) Fogler, H. Scott. (1986). Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering (catalyst, pg. 231). Prentice Hall.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One) (Fogler, pg. 94). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
4. DeMarco, Tom and Lister, Timothy. (1987). Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Catalysts, pgs. 10-11). Dorset House Pub.