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Our Team

  • John Tomasi, D.Phil.

    President

    “Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with universities, HxA invites stakeholders into a positive conversation: what kind of place, at their best, should universities and colleges be? What’s more, HxA works organically: it communicates directly with professors and students to help them teach better and learn better. This is what makes HxA unique, and it is what I like best.”

    John Tomasi is the inaugural president of Heterodox Academy. Prior to joining HxA, Tomasi held the position of Romeo Elton 1843 Professor of Natural Theology at Brown University and taught and wrote about political theory and public policy. At Brown, Tomasi was twice awarded university prizes for excellence in undergraduate teaching. He founded and directed the Political Theory Project, an independent research center at Brown that supports scholarship and encourages political dialogue on campus.

    Tomasi earned his bachelor’s degree from Colby College and did his graduate work in political philosophy at the University of Arizona (M.A.) and Oxford University (B.Phil., D.Phil.). He has held positions at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton, the Department of Philosophy at Stanford, and the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

    Tomasi is the author of Liberalism Beyond Justice: Citizens, Society and the Boundaries of Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 2001), in which he proposes a reconception of contemporary liberalism that takes the diversity of views more seriously, leading to less emphasis on the public aspect of society and developing a liberal conception of nonpublic life. Tomasi’s latest book, Free Market Fairness (Princeton University Press, 2012), draws simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls. Free market fairness is a new theory of liberal justice, committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor.

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  • Michael Regnier

    Executive Director

    “There’s no shortage of places to be polarized, closed-minded, and conformist. We need universities to be different: special places to explore, discover, challenge and be challenged. That’s not just better for education, science, and democracy — it’s more interesting and a lot more fun. HxA is lighting the way back to a joyful intellectual adventure, and welcoming students and professors around the world to come along.”

    A longtime HxA member and advocate for viewpoint diversity in education, Michael has a background in nonprofit management and public policy. Prior to joining HxA, he co-founded LEEP Dual Language Academy, Brooklyn’s first Spanish immersion charter school, which quickly grew to serve over 400 families across two campuses. Previously, Michael worked as Director of Policy and Research at the New York City Charter School Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political theory from Princeton University and his master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago.

  • Christine Richards

    Director of Membership

    “I was inspired to join the HxA team because of the values promoted by the organization – humility, open-mindedness, curiosity, respect for all viewpoints, authenticity. I believe all people can benefit from the cultivation of these values – especially students within the academy – which makes working at HxA so rewarding!”

    Christine has more than 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. Christine earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from Florida State University.

  • Kyle Vitale, Ph.D.

    Director of Programs

    “To practice heterodoxy is to practice encouragement. After all, we teach, write, and converse because we believe in this miraculous human ability to transform when encountering new things. How awesome that we get to help each other renew our minds and hearts in these ways? Heterodoxy is at the center, inviting us to speak with civil authenticity and encourage others to do the same.” 

    Kyle has a background in higher education, program management, and learning theory. Prior to joining the HxA team he supported teaching and learning initiatives at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Yale University, and Temple University. He grew to love the higher education mission while reading, writing, and teaching all things Shakespeare. Kyle earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Houghton College and a doctorate degree in English from the University of Delaware. He is co-editor of the book Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy: Case Studies and Strategies (Bloomsbury, December 2021)

  • headshot of Nicole Barbaro

    Nicole Barbaro, Ph.D.

    Director of Communications & Marketing

    “Viewpoint diversity is what makes college campuses dynamic places for curious minds. I’m proud to be a part of Heterodox Academy and promote positive culture change on campuses, striving for a future in which students and faculty can explore and discuss diverse ideas openly.”

    Nicole is a passionate writer, educator, and scientist with broad experience in the non-profit higher education sector. She has a PhD in experimental psychology with a specialization in evolution and human development from Oakland University. Prior to joining HxA, Nicole led communications and content development for the higher education research non-profit WGU Labs, and the academic research society, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. She also has been an adjunct instructor for six years, most recently at Utah Valley University. Nicole is an accomplished social scientist having published more than 50 scholarly journal articles, research reports and briefs, and numerous popular press articles.

  • Mary-Lynn Hearn

    Operations Manager

    “Open inquiry and viewpoint diversity are essential on a college campus. It is crucial to provide resources to give young adults the opportunity to explore their own views and opinions. I appreciate the values of HxA and the initiatives the organization is working on to ensure that students, faculty, and administrators have the chance to carry out the HxA Way on campus.”

    Mary-Lynn has strong experience in nonprofit work and education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Pace University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Mary-Lynn is passionate about social justice and its intersectionality with education and looks forward to forwarding HxA’s mission.

  • Musa al-Gharbi

    Daniel Bell Research Fellow

    Musa al-Gharbi is a sociologist whose research explores how people talk about, think about, and produce a shared understanding of social phenomena. He has a BA in Near Eastern Studies and a MA in philosophy from the University of Arizona. He is slated to receive a PhD in sociology from Columbia University in May 2023. Al-Gharbi is also a prolific public intellectual with essays and interviews published in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, New Republic, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, USA Today and beyond. He is currently a columnist with The Guardian US. His first book, We Have Never Been Woke: Social Justice Discourse, Inequality and the Rise of a New Elite is forthcoming with Princeton University Press.

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  • Oscar Avendano

    Communications Associate

    “Heterodoxy is how we have honest conversations. You can’t have honest conversations if others are afraid to say what they really mean. Without opposing view points, solutions to problems that affect everyone will be one sided. It should up to the individuals to sort through ideas, to accept what they believe is right, and to be able to speak their mind.”

    Oscar is a marketing and communications student at Idaho State University, expected to graduate in Fall 2022. Following graduation, Oscar hopes to complete his master’s degree in technical communications at Arizona State University. He has a broad interest in marketing, but digital marketing is what he is really passionate about. Previously, Oscar worked as a Public Information Assistant and Marketing Outreach Coordinator at the City of Pocatello where he developed his marketing skills. He has always been interested in overarching social issues and is excited to work for an organization like HxA with a mission he is passionate about.

  • Michael Dinsmore

    Donor Relations Manager

    “Every new idea starts out as a minority viewpoint. By approaching minority viewpoints with humility and charity, we can improve our understanding of the world and ensure that we identify important and groundbreaking ideas when they appear.”

    Michael’s background is in donor relations and fundraising for education-related organizations. He received a Bachelor of Arts in economics and a Master of Arts in religion from the University of Chicago, 2018 winner of HxA’s Institutional Excellence Award. In his professional and academic backgrounds, Michael has seen firsthand the potential for teaching and research to improve lives and change society for the better, as well as the necessary conditions for it to do so.

  • Steven Zhou, SHRM-CP, M.A.

    Data Analyst

    “As a graduate student, my job is to seek answers to important research questions. I strongly believe that the only way to effectively discover new knowledge is through open inquiry, respectful disagreement, and a diversity of viewpoints working together towards the same goal.”

    Steven Zhou is a Ph.D. student in psychology at George Mason University. His research is in leadership, teams, psychometrics and multivariate statistics, and higher ed policy and pedagogy. As a Data Analyst for Heterodox Academy, he seeks to find effective ways to collect, analyze, and visualize data in a way that generates accurate insights into the state of higher education and viewpoint diversity.

  • John Fernandes

    Development Associate

    “Fundamentally, heterodoxy is an exploration of ideas and perspectives outside the status quo. Heterodox thinking was the catalyst to so many movements and the foundation to incredible breakthroughs throughout our history. To me, the beauty of open inquiry and constructive disagreement are the countless opportunities for growth and understanding.”

    John’s passion for nonprofit organizations, appreciation for relationship building, and database management experience guided him to HxA as the Development Associate. With experience in organizations focused on LGBTQ+ advocacy, humanitarian aid, and higher education, he comes with the skills necessary to best support and serve HxA’s mission. Prior to joining HxA part-time, John was the Family Engagement Manager at Family Equality and is currently the full-time Systems Associate at Doctors Without Borders USA. John earned both a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Seton Hall University. Some of his favorite things are exploring NYC, watching scary movies, and enjoying a large iced coffee no matter the season.

  • Judy Bigelow

    Salesforce Administrator

    “We are in an ever changing world and have to keep an open mind, be respectful and provide acceptance to all individuals. Each of us has a part to play by being open to discussions, seeing different viewpoints, having constructive disagreements all the while being respectful. Education and research are must-haves to make these changes. This is why Heterodox Academy is so important.”

    Judy has more than 25 years of experience in business and Salesforce administration across a variety of industries including non-profit, industrial and consulting.  With her eye for detail and data management, Judy works with Team HxA to implement, maintain and update the ever growing database.

To contact our team, please email us at questions@heterodoxacademy.org.

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