Speakers at Empathy and Compassion in Society 2012

Paul Gilbert 150x150

Paul Gilbert OBE is head of the Mental Health Research Unit, and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby, where he developed Compassionate Mind Training and Compassion Focused Therapy. Prof Paul Gilbert has published and edited 21 books, including the best selling Overcoming Depression, and The Compassionate Mind. He is the series editor for a 'compassionate approaches to life difficulties' series. He was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his contributions to healthcare.


Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman is a leading clinical psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions. His 1970s research shows that emotions are universal and the facial expressions associated with some emotions are common to all humans. He worked for forty years at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of California. In recent years, Paul Ekman has engaged in discussions on the nature and quality of our emotional lives and compassion with the Dalai Lama, and co-authored Emotional Awareness. Dr Ekman will speak on live streaming.

 olga 150

Olga Klimecki is a neuroscientist and psychologist who studies the effects of training empathy and compassion on neural function, behaviour and feelings. She works with Tania Singer at the Department for Social Neuroscience of the Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.

 Patrick Gaffney 150x150

Patrick Gaffney is a writer, editor and meditation teacher. He started studying Buddhism in 1971 and specialises in particular in the compassion practices from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A director of the international network of Buddhist centres Rigpa, he is also the President of the Tenzin Gyatso Institute, a foundation named after the 14th Dalai Lama and established to put into action his principles and ideals, including the values of compassion, religious harmony and universal responsibility. He has co-edited the best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche and edited two of the Dalai Lama's books.


James Doty

James R. Doty, M.D. is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and the Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University (CCARE). He works with scientists in a variety of disciplines to understand the neural underpinnings of compassion, its physiological effects and to develop validated techniques to potentiate one’s compassion. In addition to being a neurosurgeon, he is also an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, supporting medical care in developing countries and peace initiatives.

Yotam 150x150

Yotam Heineberg is working with and studying former gang members who are now active as peacemakers in the community for CCARE - the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. The goal is to decipher processes of heroic transformation from violence to peace and by doing so understand how people transform from a life of violence to become healers in their communities. The research also surveys Israelis and Palestinians who were once combatants and who now collaborate as peacemakers.

 Christine Longaker 150x150

Christine Longaker offers a Compassion and Presence programme to healthcare professionals and social workers in Europe and the United States. Former director and staff trainer of the Hospice of Santa Cruz County in California, Ms. Longaker has provided hospice and palliative care trainings internationally since 1978. She has been instrumental in developing the Spiritual Care Programme and serves as its International Education Director. She co-designed and serves as faculty for Naropa University's accredited training in 'Contemplative End-of-Life Care', and is author of Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, which is translated into nine languages.  

 mary gordon_150x150

Mary Gordon is an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996, she founded Roots of Empathy, which now offers programs in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In 2005, Ms Gordon created the Seeds of Empathy program. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and an Ashoka Fellow.

 Richard Layard 150

Richard Layard is a labour economist who worked for most of his life on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. He is also one of the first economists to work on happiness, the director of the Well-Being Research Programme at the London School of Economics, and the co-founder of the movement Action for Happiness. His recent publications include the first World Happiness Report, that he co-edited for the United Nations Conference on Happiness last April. His main current interest is how better mental health could improve our social and economic life.  

Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religious affairs, including A History of God,  The Case for God, and, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Her work has been translated into over fifty languages. In February, 2008, she was awarded the TED Prize and is currently working with TED on a major international project to propagate the Charter for Compassion, which was crafted by leading thinkers in six of the world’s religions.


Speakers at the youth gathering, workshops, and roundtables 

Roni Berger 150

Rony Berger is a senior clinical psychologist recognized internationally for his work in dealing with the psychological preparation for and aftermath of terrorism and other major disasters. He is on the faculty of Emergency Medicine at Ben Gurion University, and of the Stress, Crisis and Trauma program at Tel Aviv University. He is also on the advisory board of CCARE and is currently developing with Professor Philip Zimbardo youth violence prevention programmes for schools and community groups that will foster pro-social behaviour.


Maureen Cooper conducts workshops and training programmes internationally, presenting the application of mindfulness, mediation and compassion training in the workplace. She combines more than twenty years of experience as a professional educator and senior manager in a not-for-profit organisation with a hands on education in Buddhism, and is now the founding director of Awareness in Action. Her new book, The Compassionate Mind Guide to Reducing Stress will be published in the autumn of 2012. 

 ari new

Ari Cowan is a social theorist and writer living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He chairs the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations and is a Compassion Action Network International fellow. He is the recipient of the American PSR National Public Health Award for his work to end violence and received American 2011 National Peacemaker of the Year Award. His forthcoming book is The Compassionate Organization: Awakening the Organizational Heart.

 Nikkola 150

Nikkola Daniel is an education consultant, with 12 years experience of delivering training and consultancy services to schools, Local Authorities and business professionals nationally. She specialises in mentoring, behaviour change, emotional literacy and social and emotional learning, and is a trainer in the the RULER Approach to social and emotional learning developed by Yale University.

 Daniel favre 150

Daniel Favre is professor in the science of education at the University of Montpellier. Having worked for 15 years in neuroscience research, Daniel completed a second doctorate thesis on education in 1990. He is a specialist in the cognitive and affective mechanisms of violence and has researched in particular whether training teachers in empathy can reduce students' violence in schools. Besides his academic functions, he offers teacher training and his most recent publications include the book Transformer la violence des élèves - Cerveau, Motivations, Apprentissage

 andrew gumley

Andrew Gumley is Professor of Psychological Therapy within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing in the University of Glasgow. He has lead the development of a number of randomized controlled trials of psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, for people with psychosis.  More recently, Andrew has also been developing and evaluating acceptance based and compassion focused approaches to improving emotional recovery amongst individuals with psychosis.   

 Julia Kim

Julia Kim is a doctor, researcher and Senior Health Policy Advisor with experience leading international health and development initiatives that address the linkages between equity, health, and sustainable development. Recent work within UNICEF has included participation in the 2012 UN High-Level Meeting on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. Her interests include integrating compassion and awareness-based practices within leadership development and organisational change initiatives.

 vanessa king 150

Vanessa King is a positive psychologist and consultant specialised in leadership, talent and organisational development. She is a Board member of Action for Happiness and the architect of the movement's Ten Keys To Happier Living. She is also a facilitator on the University of Pennsylvania’s Master Resilience Training programme for the US Army, a master practitioner of New Economics Foundation’s welling at work diagnostic and a member of the UK Government’s engagement at work taskforce.  

 roman 150

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker and founding faculty member of The School of Life in London. He advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change, and has been named by the Observer as one of Britain's leading lifestyle philosophers. His latest books include The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live and How to Find Fulfilling Work. He blogs on empathy and the art of living at www.outrospection.org

 helen 150

Helen McConnell teaches compassion in interactive courses and workshops, based on the work of the Charter for Compassion and Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. She is a CAN International Fellow, founding partner of the Charter for Compassion and co-founder of the Compassionate Washington, DC campaign. Helen’s university teaching and curriculum development experience on world religions and non-violence include Georgetown University, Trinity University, Chestnut Hill College, and The Catholic University of America.  

 Alison Murdoch

Alison Murdoch is the director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, an international educational NGO, and the co-author of 16 Guidelines: The Basics. She has presented and trained on the 16 Guidelines in Asia, Australia, Europe, Central and North America, organised the 1st European Conference on Happiness and its Causes in 2007, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio. 

 Lidewij 150

Lidewij Niezink is a lecturer in Applied Psychology at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Her research focuses on the effects of perspective taking when confronted to the suffering of others, the role of empathy and reciprocity in helping family versus friends, the measurement of state empathy within psychology, and differentiating between altruism as an inclination versus altruism as a choice. She offers curricula and trainings on empathy to a wide range of audiences from children to businesses, and publishes in national and international academic journals.

 ros oliver

Rosamund Oliver, BA, Dip Psych, ECP, worked for many years as a psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer. Her public healthcare work includes NHS psychiatry with the elderly bereaved, nurse education at St Joseph’s Hospice, London and co-creating a prison meditation project. She held a series of Buddhist psychotherapy seminars in South Africa. She is an international training manager and has regularly been invited to give professional trainings on behalf of the Spiritual Care Programme.  

 walter 150

Walter Osika is a doctor and stress researcher specialised in the neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular function in children and adults. Walter is involved in studies of early determinants of disease in adulthood, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, and the relationship between autonomic regulation, stress and problems with hearing and cognition. He is active in The Swedish Association for Contemplation in Education and Research and is one of the co-founders of CCARE Sweden, a new interdisciplinary center for research and education on altruism, compassion and social sustainability at all levels - individual, group, business, and society.  

 david rand 150

David Rand is the Executive Director of the Tenzin Gyatso Institute, a foundation named after the 14th Dalai Lama and established to put into action his principles and ideals, including the value of compassion. He has expertise both in business and non-profit-making organisations, including founding a pioneering food venture that was sold to a publicly traded company and directed a groundbreaking, values-based programme for the Aspen Institute. David first met His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1979, on the occasion of the Dalai Lama's first visit to America.  

 jonathan r 150

Jonathan Rowson is director of the Royal Society of Arts' Social Brain Centre, that questions the model of the rational individual 'homo economicus' as a very partial account of who we are, and recognises that humans are a fundamentally social species. His doctoral thesis is an inter-disciplinary and multi-method examination of the concept of wisdom, including a detailed analysis of the challenge of overcoming the psycho-social constraints that prevent people becoming 'wiser', similar to what the RSA terms the 'social aspiration gap'.  

 david rycroft 150

David Rycroft is a Mind with Heart educator and trainer, offering trainings and workshops for educators and young people in mindfulness, self-compassion and compassion. He has fifteen years experience as a teacher and educator, including in a London comprehensive school where he designed schemes of work to incorporate moments of mindfulness and emotional intelligence, and offered a life skills programme for the sixth form. David has an MA in Buddhist Studies from Sunderland University and has studied and practised meditation and compassion since 1994.

Anthony Seldon

Anthony Seldon is a political historian and commentator on British political leadership as well as on education and contemporary Britain. He is also the headmaster of Wellington College where he has introduced happiness and well-being classes into the school curriculum. Since 2010, he has been on the board of Action for Happiness, a movement for a fundamentally different way of life where people care less about what they can get for themselves and more about the happiness of others.

 ceri 150

Ceri Seel teaches English, Drama and Media in a Bristol comprehensive. He is using the practices of mindfulness and empathy to inspire himself in a challenging classroom environment. Ceri has been committed to these practices for fifteen years and has participated in several long-term retreats, focusing in particular on compassion practices. He is also a co-founder of Mind with Heart, a programme dedicated to giving the space to young people and their educators to investigate and experience empathy, compassion and altruism.


Darran Trute is a partnership manager for a group of organisations which provides legal advice to over 50,000 people, and a consultant with Awareness in Action, an organisation that brings a systematic method of developing empathy and compassion to workplaces according to the Dalai Lama’s secular approach to compassionate training. He is also part of InKindNotts a group that is working towards Nottingham adopting the Charter for Compassion.  

 junior smart

Junior Smart is the founder and project developer of the St Giles Trust's SOS Gang Project. The SOS Project is a ground breaking scheme that works with mid to high tier gang members to help them turn their lives around positively and constructively. It has helped over 1,000 young people to date and is staffed entirely by trained, reformed ex-offenders who have first hand experience of the issues their clients are facing. The project has won a Centre for Social Justice Award and Junior is now also a fellow of the school of social entrepreneurs and of the Ashoka Foundation. 

 k weare 150

Katherine Weare is an international expert in social and emotional learning and mental health and wellbeing in schools. Over the last 25 years, she has developed and implemented several national and international education programmes, including Health Promoting Schools for the European Union, Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools for the WHO, and Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) for the UK Department of Education. She is Emeritus Professor at the Universities of Exeter and Southampton where she is working to develop and evaluate mindfulness in schools.


Nelisha Wickremasinghe has ten years experience as a senior leadership and team development practitioner and consultant for the Dialogue Space across the private and public sectors, including Fujitsu, Aviva, BT, National Probation Service, AMEC and the Department of Health. Nelisha uses compassionate inquiry based approaches to increase group cohesion, creativity and commitment and to support conflict resolution and change management. She is also researching how increased self compassion supports leaders to become more resilient and motivated to create compassionate work environments.