Micki Semler

Designer, Researcher, Social Worker

Areas of Specialization
Ethnographic research
Trauma-informed methodology


Contexts of Work
USA, Kenya, Mozambique,
Nigeria, Guatemala


Family Systems
Sexual Health and Identity
Youth and Adolescent Development
HIV Prevention
Disability and Inclusion


Research Lead, Co-design Lead

“I strongly believe that all of us have a responsibility, particularly those with privileged access to financial and educational resources, to play a part in making the world a more equitable place. Systemic unequal distributions of power and influence mean that our roles in this change will take different forms, but I firmly believe that each person is accountable, and therefore powerful, in their own way…and it is this idea of power that most motivates me.”

My professional background is in clinical counseling with youth and families who have been impacted by the complex consequences of poverty, social marginalization and the United States’ criminal justice system. I have worked as a Case Manager, Program Social Worker, and Family Therapist in New York nonprofits that are dedicated to providing alternative options to incarceration, including education, community-driven advocacy, and clinical support.

The experiences that I have had, working directly with families in their homes and community spaces, have strengthened my ability to understand interpersonal, familial and community-specific experiences, and how they are situated in the larger ecosystems that surround us. While living in Nairobi for two years, I translated my understanding of how to approach these interactional dynamics into design research, primarily centered around initiating behavior-change and designing in consideration of the complex factors that influence decision-making in low-resource settings.

I joined Sonder for the chance to learn from people who prioritize the same values, specifically when it comes to how people should work together, respect each other, and remain committed to long-term, community-led change.