Hala Hanna: Finding Diverse Solutions to the Most Pressing Global Challenges

Hala Hanna

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have an inspiring interview to help you start the week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Hala Hanna, executive director at MIT Solve. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Hi Hala, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is MIT Solve addressing?

Hala: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! At MIT Solve, we believe that, to achieve a more sustainable and equitable future for all, we need new voices and solutions. Our mission is to find and scale the best. We launch open calls for exceptional and diverse solutions to the most pressing global challenges, from anyone, anywhere in the world. Selected innovators get the backing of MIT and our community of supporters to scale their impact and drive lasting change. Check us out at solve.mit.edu.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Hala: Growing up in Lebanon and studying economics compelled me to understand how generational shifts lead to prosperity. At the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, I learned the role governments and corporations can play. But I love moving fast and seeing the change in real-time. At MIT Solve, I am surrounded by extraordinary innovators who take whatever resources they have and turn them into tangible solutions to improve their communities—I wake up for that each morning!

Spiffy: That’s inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Hala: MIT Solve’s Solver teams reach a whooping 190 million lives around the world, including youth, disabled persons, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, refugees, and more. In sync with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), MIT Solve’s challenges address pressing global issues every year. Committed to substantial change, it champions diversity, breaks down stereotypes, and propels the social impact sector forward. By embracing a human-centered design ethos, it not only acknowledges but actively amplifies the skills and contributions of often-underestimated communities.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Hala: Our award-winning documentary series “The Big Idea!” The three-part series features three Solver teams as they build their groundbreaking solutions to some wicked challenges. From a life-saving solution to cool vaccines in the most remote places, to technology aimed at reducing the Black maternal mortality rates, to robot-building kits for Indigenous youth, the innovators featured are shaking up the status quo and changing the world. Watch the films here.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Hala—it’s been an honor!

Hala Hanna, executive director at MIT Solve, is a team builder driving innovation to solve global challenges. Her career revolves around building catalytic partnerships and strategies for social impact, which includes roles at the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations. She holds a distinguished academic record, with alma maters including Harvard University and the American University of Beirut. (Nominated by Ao Kong at the United Nations. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 22, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and digital curriculum, with the mission to enable over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs.

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