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.

I have over 12 years experience working with universities, colleges, non-profits, and philanthropists 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 non-profit organizations and 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.

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; 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

Karith Foster

Diversity | Student Engagement | Campus Programs

Diversity Engagement Specialist, Humorist, Author

Pano Kanelos

Higher Ed Leadership |

Faculty Development

President, St. John's College, Annapolis

Randell Kennedy

Public Relations | Higher Ed

Media Relations |

Crisis Communication

President & Founder, Academy Communications

Jessica Loechler

Business Development | Marketing

Agency Sales Lead, Google

Beth Moy

Consortial Collaboration | Strategic Planning | Project Management

Executive Director, Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE)

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

what does myco mean?  

from mýkēs, the Greek word for mushroom

Mushrooms are the fruit of an intricately interconnected, sophisticated, and resilient organism. While mushrooms are the part of the fungus we see, the bulk of the organism--the mycelium-- lies below ground. Unseen. Complex. Essential. The mycelium develops in nutrient-rich substrates. Then, when the conditions are right, mushrooms emerge.  Spores propagate.  


Infinitely beautiful and diverse, forming symbiotic relationships with other living things, mushrooms offer an exquisite metaphor for how to collaborate well: nurture foundations, spread ideas, form connections, share resources, reap rewards.

(Curious about myco's logo? The O is a spore print, a beautiful pattern made by the billions of spores that drop from the gills of a single mushroom.  Visit the North American Mycological Association to learn how to make spore prints at home.)

The point of collaboration is not to join forces because it feels good or because it is easy; the point of collaboration is to join forces because the anticipated end result clearly relates to the shared purpose and goals of the participants.

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Deb Mashek, PhD
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