In what seemed like days ago, we met and became instant friends upon entering our doctorate program at Saint Mary’s College during the early summer of 2014. We instantly bonded because of our ability to create heart-to-heart connections that defied societal expectations around race, class, religion, and sexuality. It became apparent to us that friendship was special and unique; it was very much rooted in our identities and personal stories and yet, at the same time, transcended our personal stories and backgrounds. Over time, we also discovered that we had a common passion: a) a desire to expand the idea of what it meant to be a man, and b) the mission to help other men reclaim their full beauty and humanity. As we shared our personal journeys and talked more about social leadership, we realized there was a critical opportunity to do “the work” and address masculinity in a culturally-intelligent and emotionally-intelligent way.  We believe that patriarchy is harming the planet, and that men have an essential role in transforming and healing society. Yet, before men can help with the larger efforts of changing society, they must first begin to “do their work” within themselves and their relationships with others. Our work at Magic Machismo is a crucial step in helping men to realize their full potential to facilitate inclusion and equity for everyone both personally and professionally.


Joel A. Brown, J.D., Ed.D.

Joel A. Brown is a thought leader specializing in cultural intelligence, leadership, and organizational strategy. As a change agent, Joel works strategically with organizational leaders to cultivate innovative, creative, and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully.

Best known for his critical analysis, creativity, humor, and his ability to build consensus, Joel has partnered with Fortune 500 Companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to help them achieve sustained growth and organizational breakthroughs. His clients have ranged from LinkedIn to the United Nations, and his “sweet spots” have included men’s leadership, storytelling and personal narratives, workplace dialogue, and cultural intelligence.

Joel is a member of several international think tanks, including D2K, the Diversity Collegium, SIETAR, and the Global Community Dialogue. He is also an Expert Panelist with the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks and certified in the Cultural Detective suite of intercultural tools.  Joel is also a visiting professor at the IESEG Management School in Paris, France, and Lille France.

Joel graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy, with a minor in Spanish and African-American studies.  Subsequently, Joel earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2000, and was also inducted into the University of Virginia Raven’s Society.  In 2018, Joel completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California.

Nick Van Santen, M.Div., Ed.D.

Nick van Santen is the Assistant Director of Student Formation and Immersions at Saint Mary’s College of California outside Oakland, USA. Nick specializes in creating transformative learning experiences, offering a wholistic approach to human development, and relationship building. As an educator, Nick works strategically with community partners to accelerate participants’ learning and development by integrating social justice theory with reflective practices so that leaders can personally grow in ways that promote the common good.

Best known for his innovative programs, community engagement, warmth, and his ability to cultivate diverse and authentic teams, Nick has partnered with non-profit organizations to maximize resources and impact through innovative instruction and community engagement opportunities ranging from food justice in Salinas, CA to gentrification in West Oakland to youth and homelessness in Los Angeles to immigration along the US/Mexico Border. Nick’s “sweet spots” include men’s mentorship, leadership development, and social-emotional support.

Nick is a member of the National Steering Committee for Fair Trade Colleges and Universities and participant of the Interfaith Leadership Institute. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member with the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College. Nick is a SafeZone facilitator, leadership instructor, and Title IX coordinator. Nick is a graduate of the College of Idaho and Princeton Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2018.