Change SIG - 8/27/2021

08/27/2021 8:30 AM | Mary Charles Blakebrough (Administrator)

How we can make radical change, without changing the radicals

Facilitated by Micah J. Kessel & Kate Scott

(8:30-10:30 AM - bring your own coffee/tea and snacks).

A revolutionary take on how to approach organizational DEI, called ‘Two In The Room’

We are at a time of history when we are told that to move forward, we must bring the two most extreme edges together, pulling them towards the middle through dialogue.

That when dialogue meets in the middle, and the ends of the political spectrum listen to each other, depolarization will occur.

In reality, we haven’t seen that happen. In fact, we see it only polarizes us further.

But what about the middle that already exists? Those who, in their hearts, want inclusion and belonging for all. They just don’t know how to make it happen.

Our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders have done everything they could to give the middle that knowledge, through facts, statistics, and exercises.

But when we asked more than 100 DEI directors in organizations across the country what their biggest challenge is, we consistently hear that after all of those trainings, they’re not seeing people apply that knowledge in their teams and communities.

And so by looking at our nation’s complicated strategy in defeating racism, speaking with the brightest researchers on bias, and the science of emotions, we came up with a clear starting point for change. This starting point is actionable, can change lives, and can be represented in one powerful easy to remember phrase:

TWO IN THE ROOM. Specifically, two people in every room who are comfortable and willing to speak up for the rights of others.

Two in the Room is the basis for our theory of change — we can make radical change without needing to change the radicals.

NOTE: After being amazed by Micah’s ‘radical change’ article on LinkedIn, Kate and I wondered if he might possibly share those concepts with the Change SIG. Micah is leading our program as a gift, though he normally receives $1,250 for such a session. If you are inspired by the work he is doing and want to support him, you can contribute to his GoFundMe which goes toward expanding the Playground of Empathy’s library of immersive stories so people can experience more TWO IN A ROOMs here: You can also learn more about it in an upcoming virtual free session. Register here:  Contact — WALK in My Shoes ( Kate and Mary Charles will be attending the Aug 13th session.


Micah J. Wonjoon Kessel is Executive Director of Playground of Empathy and Emotions Centered Design Lead at the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab at Northeastern University. As a designer, Micah works at the intersection of emotions research, immersive experience, and the study of performance culture, with a focus on bridging the equality of human flourishing across difference. As a young adult, Micah performed at the Metropolitan Opera, then focused his masters on human centered design at the Royal Academy of Art in Belgium. He founded the immersive design bureau, Sherlocked Amsterdam, the world’s top rated escape games according to TripAdvisor. 

Pioneering behavioral design in the Netherlands, Micah collaborated on concepts with Google, Disney, and the Diabetes Fund, then left to co-found Playground of Empathy.  

  • Playground’s Walk in My Shoes Experience, now called Empathable, was designed in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, president of the Association for Psychological Sciences, who has revolutionized the world’s understanding of how and why the brain creates emotions. Micah has presented his work at the Society for Neuroscience and Creativity, the Spectrum conference for founders of color, was a SOCAP scholar, and a Byron Fellow. 

  • Under his direction, Playground’s team was a winner of the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund Award in 2020, granted by their joint council of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and has since shared the Walk in My Shoes Experience with over 50 organizations, including the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education Conference, the Black in Design Conference, and The Boston Museum of Science. 

As of recently, Micah is receiving advice from Dr. Mahzarin Banaji’s lab, OHM at Harvard. Dr. Banaji is the psychologist known for popularizing the concept of implicit bias.

Kate Scott is an organizational and leadership development expert with over 20 years of Human Resources experience, mostly in the tech industry. Throughout her career, Kate has successfully led organization-wide transformation efforts and has expertise in the areas of organizational change, talent selection and development, and people strategy. 

She played an instrumental role in establishing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program for PTC, a global software company, and is passionate about creating more equitable and inclusive work environments.

Kate has a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and recently completed her Masters of Business Administration, with a special emphasis on strategy and entrepreneurship. Connect with Kate at and @KateScott4 on Twitter.

NOTE 1: SUMMER HELP NEEDED (8/27): Are you good at producing a Zoom program (i.e., 'behind the scenes' work) - the things our wonderful producer Debbie Morris usually does? Contact Mary Charles 919-656-9573 -- Debbie will be away for July & August, returning for our September program

NOTE 2: Do you have an idea to polish or a presentation to try out? The Change SIG is looking for October and 2022 speakers.

For more information, contact SIG leaders, Mary Charles Blakebrough (919-656-9573) or Vickie Bevenour.

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