Micah Wonjoon Kessel


  • Speaker
  • Workshop Facilitator

Keynote speaker and workshop designer on Empathy and Belonging for marquee brands and conferences, Micah is former Design Lead at top Emotions Research Lab (IASLab). He has worked with top scientists in bias, emotions and empathy, and is CEO of Empathable, a scalable experiential app that creates measurable workplace empathy through a science-based, immersive application. Micah has shared his talks and experiences at brands such as Google, Microsoft, Target, and Deloitte, speaks five languages and is a Byron fellow.


Empathy is often defined as 'understanding how others feel' but this is actually a scientific impossibility. Empathy comes to life when we redefine it as 'the acknowledgement of another's experience to be as valid as our own.' Applying this new definition can bring a stronger foundation to an entire organization.


How Leadership can achieve more, leveraging Science of Empathy research:
An interactive presentation on what science has learned about empathy, emotions, and how it can create bold new ways of exploring work culture, leadership, and management.

Two in a Room: How Allies Can Shift an Entire Culture:
In this talk, you will learn how and why ‘Two in the Room’ brings everyone along on their allyship journey, changes disheartened to hopeful, and can shift an entire orgs culture most effectively. The additional benefit is, it also works to help your community of family and friends, including the one who you think may never change.

“Micah’s time with us through Empathable brought us more closely together as a team and was incredibly valuable in creating trust, being there for each other, and being focused as a team as opposed to a bunch of individuals.”
– COO, Deloitte Government People and Services

“Micah is one of the most thoughtful, intuitive, and empathic people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and for that reason, he’s both effective and a joy to work with. Micah possesses the combination of creativity (a ground-up, design-first way of thinking) with focused and detailed execution. His capacity to envision but also to execute is a gift to all he works with.”
– Charles Henderson, CTO, CEO at Stacker Group, Co-founder of ENTR Alliance for Clean Energy

“Micah is thoughtful, creative and genuine. He easily understands nuance as well as understands complex problems. A change maker using social innovation with a firm sense of business, Micah values the power of investment to create change. Micah is not afraid to tackle a challenge with optimism and humor. He has clear vision, takes into consideration all angles and easily adapts in dynamic situations.”
– Heather Mott, Charitable and entrepreneurial professional

"Micah is one of the most thoughtful, intuitive, and empathic people I've had the pleasure of working with."

For nearly two decades, Micah J. Wonjoon Kessel has designed empathic experiences applying research on the science of emotions. Pioneering behavioral design in the Netherlands, he advised on experiential concepts with organizations such as Google, Disney, Microsoft, and projects for flourishing across social divides with the Finnish and Swedish governments, and the Diabetes Fund.

Currently, Micah is Design Lead at Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett’s neuroscience lab, IASLab, at Northeastern Psychology, and at Dr. Mahzarin Banaji’s implicit bias research lab at Harvard Psychology.

He applies this research as Executive Director of Empathable, which has created a facilitated experience and an app that is changing the paradigm of how we learn through experience, resulting in increasing empathy while decreasing bias and polarization on an organizational and national scale.

Under Micah’s direction, Empathable’s team is a winner of the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund Award. Empathable has been shared with over 100 organizations, including the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, at the Black in Design Conference, and multiple Fortune 50 companies. He has presented his work at Harvard Medical School, the Society for Neuroscience and Creativity, The Boston Museum of Science, Darden School of Business, and was a 2019 Byron fellow. He speaks English, German, Italian, Dutch, and French and enjoys speaking and writing on the topic of experience and subjective realism.

Novel extras: As a young adult, Micah performed at the Metropolitan Opera, studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands, and focused his masters on human centered design at the Royal Academy of Art in Belgium. He then accelerated his understanding of experiential interaction and behavior through founding the immersive design bureau, Sherlocked Amsterdam, then considered the world’s top rated escape games according to TripAdvisor.

Let’s collaborate to ensure a transformative experience.