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Our Team

  • A headshot of Michael Dinsmore

    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 comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in donor relations and fundraising for education-related organizations. He holds a BA in Economics and an MA in Religion from the University of Chicago, 2018 winner of HxA’s Institutional Excellence Award. In his professional and academic backgrounds, he 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.

  • A headshot of Shira Harary

    Shira Harary, LMSW

    Operations Manager

    “At the heart of it, I see constructive disagreement as a way to frame active listening. When we employ active listening, our relationships grow stronger and our minds grow bigger.”

    Shira always finds herself in awe of organizational mechanics, which is why she is excited to be in a position that helps keep HxA’s gears turning each day. With experience in both public and private sectors, Shira has honed skills such as organizational management, professional development, and relationship-building. Her previous work includes school admissions and operations, hospital administration, media production, and youth summer camps. While these environments may seem wildly different, Shira made space in each to encourage heterodox thinking and conversation with coworkers, students, clients, and campers. Shira brings a unique perspective to Heterodox Academy with Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Educational Studies from Brandeis University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Non-Profit Management and Administration from Columbia University. She also holds a certificate in Human Services Management from the Network for Social Work Administration.

  • Headshot of Samantha Hedges

    Samantha Hedges, Ph.D

    K-12 Program Manager

    “Educating our youth is one of the most important endeavors that we undertake as a society. Whether in a K-12 or college classroom, when there are questions that cannot be asked or lines of inquiry that cannot be pursued, not only are we shortchanging our youth, we risk regressing as a society.”

    Samantha comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in K-12 and higher education and public policy advocacy. Prior to joining the HxA team, Samantha was an elementary school teacher for Chicago Public Schools and public policy advocate for child and youth public health programs, early childhood education, and youth afterschool programs in Illinois. While pursuing her Ph.D., she studied evidence use in policymaking for K-12 education and taught an undergraduate course that prepared aspiring teachers to enter the profession. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Social Work, and a PhD in Education Policy Studies.

  • Marin Huver

    Membership Program Assistant

    “Heterodoxy is a beautiful expression of intellectual integrity. By approaching alternative perspectives with openness and humility, we can thoughtfully address systematic biases in the investigative process and ultimately foster rich environments for academic inquiry and discovery.”

    Marin comes to Heterodox Academy with experience providing administrative support and personnel services in non-profit settings. She first joined HxA as a Graduate Affiliate while completing her graduate studies in psychology. Marin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Evangel University and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Regent University, with a focus on the psychology of religion and spirituality.

  • Daniel Koas

    Event Planner

    “Heterodoxy is about embracing our natural curiosity and respectfully encouraging others to embrace theirs. I believe that everything should be analyzed and interrogated; some ideas may turn out to be wrong, but others may be right. How can we be real learners if we don’t question, constructively disagree, and discover?”

    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

    Interim Executive Director

    “Heterodox thinking (as opposed to orthodox thinking) can improve every aspect of our lives — from our personal relationships, to how we spend our leisure time, to how we approach professional challenges. I want to help others benefit from experiencing new perspectives as much as I have benefited from it!”

    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.

  • Mckenzie Love

    Director of Communications

    “Exposure to heterodox ideas—in education and in life—strengthens our abilities to think critically, develop creative and effective solutions to society’s problems, and ultimately to grow as humans. The only way we will move beyond our current polarized state is to embrace and practice openness, respect, kindness, and intellectual humility when encountering differing perspectives. I’m immensely proud to be part of an organization that forwards these values.”

    Mckenzie joins Heterodox Academy with a background in higher education communications and marketing. Prior to joining HxA, she worked in alumni marketing at Columbia University and student communications at New York University Stern School of Business. She graduated summa cum laude from Colby College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and history.

  • A headshot of Zach Rausch

    Zach Rausch

    Communications Manager

    “I believe in the mission of Heterodox Academy because I believe in the idea of institutionalized disconfirmation. As individuals, we are deeply flawed and our worldview is colored by our biases. But when we consider our point of view as just one among many and create environments where we can engage with others perspectives, we can challenge the limits of our thinking and end up accomplishing, I believe, quite extraordinary things.”

    Zach comes to Heterodox Academy with a background in experimental psychology. He holds a BA in Sociology and Religious Studies, and an MS in Psychological Science from SUNY New Paltz. In his professional and academic backgrounds, he has worked as a teaching assistant for psychological statistics, a direct-care worker in various psychiatric residential facilities, and as an expedition guide at a wilderness therapy program.

  • 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 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.

  • Cynthia Schweighart

    Executive Assistant

    “In today’s polarized world, Heterodox Academy is a much-needed breath of fresh air, reminding us that we all need to consider and value differing viewpoints. This is especially true on college campuses, where our future leaders are being prepared for the working world. Diversity of thought, the courage to express different opinions, and the willingness to listen to them, are more important now than ever before.”

    Cynthia comes to Heterodox Academy with over 14 years of experience in Administrative Operations.  She is a seasoned C-Level Executive Assistant with a diverse background in the private sector, having supported Executives at a variety of enterprises, ranging from a startup IT company, to a prominent university in California, to a government contractor specializing in helping Marines transition to civilian life.  Cynthia is a native Spanish speaker and a graduate of San Diego 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 comes to Heterodox Academy with 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 holds a B.A. (English) from Houghton College and a Ph.D. (English) from the University of Delaware.

  • Headshot of Shelly Zhou

    Shelly Zhou, Ph.D


    “Heterodoxy is true diversity. Diversity of people without open, respectful, and constructive discourse about the things that differentiate them is not much more than a diverse co-existence. Only with such discourse can diverse people learn from each other’s divergent perspectives to grow as individual people and as a group.”

    Shelly joined Heterodox Academy after completing her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Toronto. She studies social interactions among diverse groups of people, and the benefits that these interactions have for reducing prejudice (e.g., “isms” like racism and sexism).

To contact our team, please email us at

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