Deb Mashek, PhD

I have spent two decades studying how people form relationships with each other, as well as the challenges and rewards of doing so.


I apply relationship theory to understand and improve how individuals relate to others and to help people achieve together that which cannot be achieved alone.  


Whether connecting higher ed administrators with their faculties, higher ed leaders with each other, philanthropists with organizations, or junior faculty members with senior faculty members, I engage clients in careful analysis and problem solving, weaving deep relationship knowledge with tailored facilitation, genuine concern for the individuals in the room, and an unwavering commitment to my clients’ goals. I am an accomplished collaboration builder who sees pathways where others see tangled complexity.

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Experienced professor,

higher ed administrator & national nonprofit executive. I have spent the past 15 years leveraging my expertise in the psychology of relationships to facilitate collaborative action within nuanced

academic spaces.

I have over 15 years experience working with universities, colleges, and non-profits to determine priorities, define growth strategies, and align stakeholders.  I have broad experience in university administration and systems change. After receiving tenure at Harvey Mudd College in 2011, I served three years as the college’s Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Later, at the behest of the Deans of the seven Claremont Colleges, I directed grant-funded efforts to better leverage the colleges’ collective potential on the academic front. Based on the successes of that project, I was charged with launching the Office of Consortial Academic Collaboration, which serves five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions.  

In 2017, I left my dream job as a tenured full professor and moved from California to New York to become the inaugural Executive Director of Heterodox Academy, a non-profit organization that advances open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement on college campuses and in academic disciplines.  I transformed HxA from a passion project to a stand alone 501c3, providing thoughtful, careful, and consistent leadership to guide HxA through its formative years.  


I am a hands-on leader with a passion for strengthening academic institutions, and spearheading initiatives while fostering collaboration, communication, and coherence.

I am a committed collaborator who is energized by twisty problems that require organized, persistent effort to orchestrate people, data, tools, and processes.

I earned a BS in psychology/biology in 1997 from Nebraska Wesleyan University.  I received 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, I moved to the Claremont Colleges, where I served 14 years as a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts at Harvey Mudd College.

articles published in

advisory board


Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

Nonprofit Leadership | Organizational Strategy

Founding Executive Director or Founder & President of Ideas Beyond Borders


Elizabeth Eiss

Business Development |

Product Development

Founder & CEO, Results Resourcing


Kyle Emile

Nonprofit Leadership | Organizational Strategy

Founder & Executive Director; Free Intelligent Conversation, Strategic Partner Manager, Commerce at Facebook


Ashley Finley

Higher Ed | Strategic Planning

Senior Advisor to the President & Vice President of Strategic Planning and Partnerships, Association of American Colleges and Universities

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Karith Foster

Diversity | Student Engagement | Campus Programs

Diversity Engagement Specialist, Humorist, Author

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Pano Kanelos

Higher Ed Leadership |

Faculty Development

President, St. John's College, Annapolis

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Randell Kennedy

Public Relations | Higher Ed

Media Relations |

Crisis Communication

President & Founder, Academy Communications


Jessica Loechler


Michael Nanfito

Higher Ed | Cross-Functional Collaboration | Boat Builder

Founder, Nanfito & Associates LLC


Kristina Powers

Institutional Research | Higher Ed | Strategy

President, Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education


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