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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.

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.

Caroline Czarnecki

Operations Coordinator

Caroline comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in the arts communications, art consulting, and fashion industry. Prior to joining Team HxA, she focused on increasing public engagement within the arts and creating team-centric solutions. She holds a BA in Business Communications and Philosophy from Baruch College.

Geoff Holtzman

Senior Researcher, Metrics

Geoff received his BA in Cognitive Science from Vassar College in 2007 and his PhD in Philosophy from CUNY Graduate Center in 2014. While pursuing his doctorate, he joined a social cognitive affective neuroscience lab at Baruch College, where he conducted research on the uptake and retention of women and minorities in STEM disciplines. After completing his dissertation on the experimental philosophy of faultless disagreement, he undertook a fellowship in neuroethics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, followed by a fellowship in moral psychology at Geisinger Health System. He came to HxA from the Department of Psychology at Franklin and Marshall College, where he taught for a year-and-a-half in their Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind Program.

Geoff’s empirical research has been published in journals ranging from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. He has also published an article on neurolaw and the pseudoscience of phrenology in the online magazine Slate, and hopes to bring his metrics research at HxA to a popular audience through his writing.

Daniel Koas

Event Planner

Daniel comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in community engagement and event planning. Prior to joining the HxA team, Daniel was the New York regional director of a Jewish communal organization where he planned and executed conventions, summer camps, trips, and leadership trainings. He also spent a year living and working in Izmir, Turkey as part of a community development fellowship. He holds a BA in American Studies and History from Brandeis University.

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 managed 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.

Kathryn Ralph

Senior Researcher, Interventions

Kathryn Ralph joins Heterodox Academy with over 15 years of experience spanning industry, healthcare, academic, and non-profit settings. Kathryn became passionate about conducting intervention research while earning her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology at NYU, where she researched breast-cancer related chronic illnesses. Following her time at NYU, Kathryn worked as a Senior Research Associate for the Clinical Assessment Division of Pearson, Inc. There she trained and supported a worldwide network of academic collaborators as they researched the efficacy of Cogmed – a novel cognitive training program. To further hone her research expertise, Kathryn obtained her Ph.D. in Research and Experimental Psychology at the University of Notre Dame in 2019. During her graduate work and as a post-doctoral researcher at Notre Dame, Kathryn focused on enhancing adolescent working memory and attention using computerized cognitive training, as well as explored the attentional mechanisms underlying complex cognition. 

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.

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.

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