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Debra Mashek

Executive Director

Debra has spent two decades studying how people form relationships with each other. She earned a BS in psychology/biology in 1997 from Nebraska Wesleyan University.  She received both an MA (1999) and PhD (2002) in social/health psychology with an emphasis in quantitative methods from Stony Brook University. After completing a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at George Mason University, she moved to the Claremont Colleges, where she served 13 years as a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts at Harvey Mudd College (HMC).  She has published over 30 academic articles and chapters, and has edited two academic books. She has won multiple awards at both local and national levels for her teaching; her favorite courses to teach are Psychology of Collaboration, Intellectual Virtues, and I’m Right; You’re Wrong.

In addition to her strengths in research and teaching, Mashek has broad experience in university administration and systems change. After receiving tenure in 2011, Mashek served three years as HMC’s Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Later, at the behest of the Deans of the seven Claremont Colleges, she directed grant-funded efforts to better leverage the colleges’ collective potential on the academic front. Based on the successes of that project, Mashek was charged with launching the new Office of Consortial Academic Collaboration, which serves five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions.  As the principal of Cogit8 Consulting, she works with clients to cultivate the collaborative capacity of individuals, teams, and organizations. She is an experienced administrator who practices shared leadership to ensure team members are able and eager to contribute their talents and expertise to their work.

Mashek describes herself as a heterodox enthusiast who values, seeks out, and creates open inquiry and viewpoint diversity both professionally and personally.  Although she was reluctant to leave her tenured professorship at a top liberal arts school, Mashek is powerfully drawn to the mission of Heterodox Academy. The polarization on campuses leaves her worried about the very foundations of the academic enterprise.  She became the first Executive Director of Heterodox Academy in January 2018.

Sean T. Stevens

Research Fellow

Sean obtained his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick in 2013. For one year he then served as the Research Director for the Social Perception Lab at Rutgers University, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers, in affiliation with the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He became Heterodox Academy’s first Director of Research in May of 2016. Sean is also a member of the Best Practices in Science Movement, and works to promote scientific integrity practices in the social sciences.

Sean has spent almost two decades researching how moral convictions produce motivated reasoning within the political domain, how this motivated reasoning can distort research in the social sciences, and how motivated reasoning can lead to political extremism and intolerance, creating obstacles to political compromise. He has recently begun to investigate the psychological factors motivate support for censorship and self-censorship. In Sean’s work for Heterodox Academy he directs the bi-annual administration of the Campus Expression Survey (CES) and works with individual campuses that want to administer the CES to their student body.

Musa al-Gharbi

Managing Editor and Senior Fellow

In addition to his work with Heterodox Academy, Musa is a sociologist at Columbia University. His work explores how knowledge is produced, transmitted, evaluated and put to use (or not) — and how thinking is shaped by the institutions and social contexts people find themselves in. He applies these lenses to a range of topics including race, inequality, social movements, extremism, policing, national security, foreign policy — and more recently — U.S. political elections.

Musa’s work has been published and/or featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Times of London, The Atlantic, New Republic, Foreign Affairs, Al-Jazeera, Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Higher Education and many other outlets. He has done interviews with CNN, Slate, Voice of America, Inside Higher Ed and beyond.

He has M.A. degrees in Sociology and Philosophy, and B.A. degrees in Near Eastern Studies and Philosophy. Prior to joining Columbia, he served as an instructor in Government & Public Service at the University of Arizona and managed an academic consortium that studied Middle East conflicts. Interested parties can connect to his research and social media via his website, musaalgharbi.com.

Manon Loustaunau

Director of Operations

Manon comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in non-profit administration, community engagement, and design. Prior to joining Team HxA, she spent two years managing operations at The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design in Richmond, Virginia, a museum focused on uniting communities through education. She holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Daniel Koas

Event Planner

Daniel comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in event planning and community engagement. Prior to joining the HxA team, Daniel worked for two years as a regional director at a Jewish youth-serving organization where he planned and executed conventions, summer camps, trips, and leadership trainings. Before that, he spent a year living in Turkey as part of a community development fellowship. He holds a BA in American Studies and History from Brandeis University.

Christine Richards

Memberships Manager

Christine joins Heterodox Academy with nearly 10 years of experience in non-profit membership and development. Most recently, she spent five years with the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she managed a membership program of 7,000 members. She has a BA in Art History from Florida State University.

Erin Carr

Research Project Manager

Erin is a nonprofit professional with a passion for supporting the work of mission-driven organizations in shaping the future. Previously, Erin spent more than five years working in grant-making at organizations including Brooklyn Arts Council, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Creative Capital. She also worked in education and public programs at the Museum of the Moving Image and the Brooklyn Museum. While attending New York University, she worked as a Resident Assistant in NYU’s comprehensive residential life programs, where she developed interactive events expose students to different perspectives. With this background, she is excited to engage in conversations around campus expression and viewpoint diversity at HxA. Erin has a BA in Art History and a MA in Museum Studies with a focus on education, community engagement, and nonprofit management – both from NYU.

Sean Fagan

Marketing Manager

Sean brings to Heterodox Academy over 15 years of non-profit marketing and digital experience having held positions as Brand and Marketing Manager at Bend the Arc and Digital Director at Global Zero. He holds an MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and BA in African History from the College of William and Mary.


   To contact our staff, please email questions@heterodoxacademy.org