Hannah Levinson

Meet Hannah. First of all, if you don’t already know Hannah, I’m not even sure how you’ve made it this far without knowing her. Second, I literally cannot say enough positive things about this amazing woman.

I met Hannah at 7th Street Market (Not Just Coffee, of course) while having coffee with the lovely Katie Toussaint. Katie said, “Hannah!” and so Hannah joined us. I’d recognized her from Twitter, and knew she was very well liked. It didn’t take long for me to discover why.

Within the first 3 minutes of conversation with her, I already felt like one of Hannah’s good friends. She asked about my role at Queen City Forward, if I was enjoying it, and genuinely seemed to want to know. And that’s Hannah—she genuinely cares.

I’ve since spent quite a bit of time with her at Packard Place, and gotten to enjoy coffee with her once or twice. Each time I leave an interaction with Hannah, I am a more positive person. She has a way of uplifting and inspiring people, with such humility that I can’t quite explain. There’s no such thing as small talk with her. Every conversation is real, meaningful, and genuine. I tweeted once that ‘time spent with Hannah is good for the soul,’ and I couldn’t be more sincere in saying that. Hannah is good for the soul. Not to mention, she rocks red lipstick like no one you’ve ever met in your life. Don’t tell her I’m giving away her secret, but she says it’s all about the liner.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to call Hannah a friend, and I hope you will, too.

Hannah’s passion for social change and involvement in the entrepreneurial community made her the perfect candidate of the 2015 ImpactU Demo Day MC. Come see Hannah in action August 5, and say ‘Hello.’

What is your passion

My driving passion? I have many. But I would say the primary passion of mine is economic equity and education for women and girls. That’s been growing in me for years now and will be a life-long motivator. My experience as a woman is a defining feature of my life and livelihood, and I’ve worked in service of several different groups and populations over the years, but this passion has grown in me with more fervor with each passing year. It’s a motivation and underpinning of everything I do and the way that I see the world.

What’s your greatest indulgence?

It’s definitely craft coffee. I’m probably one of the Queen City’s greatest aficionados of The Daily Press. I also love Not Just Coffee and am also a big fan of Central Coffee–they have this absolutely amazing cold brew that will change your life. These Pure Intentions nitro taps that are popping up at area restaurants and breweries all ’round town are also game changers. That’s something that I’ll chase down in every city I travel to–trying to find the best cup of coffee on god’s green earth.

What is your least favorite trait about yourself?

I think it’s my aversion to making big decisions. Part of this is my background as a philosopher; you’re trained to look at things from multiple angles, not overvaluing one option over another, and critically investigate every sub-point of a thing you encounter. What that leads to on the bad side is…having a difficulty of deciding between two, three, several different options because you see merit in each of them and don’t want to close off the possibility or potentiality in any.

What’s missing from Charlotte?

At this juncture, I’d say sustaining capital for all of the entrepreneurs or entrepreneurially-minded people that are living, working in and considering moving to our city. I don’t think this will be the case forever, but we’re in this limbo season where there’s more interest in growing businesses than there is capital to sustain them. I’m curious to see how our really unmitigated growth affects that and is affected by that in the coming years.

Steven Radney asked what did you learn from your best team experience?

Gosh, that’s a great question! I learned that leadership is learned and not innate. My best team experience to date was a few years ago in a small team I worked with during graduate school. It was just me, the director of the program, a graphic designer, and one other person, and we worked together seamlessly. One of the primary reasons for that was because we had a leader who was at once hands on and hands off; she was supportive, she gave structure, didn’t micro-manage, and encouraged us in this fluid way that was so natural, I almost didn’t notice it was happening. The only reason I realized later that the experience was different was because I hadn’t had that unity in a team before, and I recognized it was because of her leadership and ability to recognize and draw out everyone’s strengths, and uplift everyone around their weaknesses or their growth areas. And she had studied for that. She had spent time building those skills in her portfolio, it hadn’t just happened overnight. She evolved into a leader by deciding to become one.

Ally Gartner asked if you had to get a tattoo, what would you get, and where would you get it?

That’s easy. I have one already—it’s a big tattoo down my spine in Hebrew of all my siblings’ names, a kind of family tree. That was the perfect tattoo, the only one I really wanted, and I sat on it for years before I finally got it done, knowing that if the idea stayed with me that long it would be something I was perfectly confident in keeping. The only other tattoo idea that I’ve had that’s stuck with me is a replica of a steam engine, and here’s why: my grandfather grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and worked for steel mills for 50+ years, but was also a steam engine conductor. He worked on railroads for decades of his life, and then in retirement spends his days traveling the world, taking pictures of steam trains. He’s literally gone to multiple countries every year of his life since probably his early-mid fifties or so–China seven times, all of the Eastern European bloc countries, several countries in South America…it’s just an obsession with trains. To me, though, trains embody travel, mystery, adventure, romance…and obviously an homage to family, which is very important to me.

What is your favorite picture of yourself?

(Laughing) It’s the one that’s everywhere. You can give James Stewart credit for it. What I love about it most is–James and most people know this–there are hardly any pictures of me that exist. I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself, and I don’t take very many pictures of myself or just generally. I really love looking at and experiencing other peoples’ photo-documentation of their and their friends’ lives, yet find myself struggling with the concept of taking pictures in a situation where I’m having a wonderful experience and want to stay conscious and present, not dilute whatever emotional weight it carries by putting a screen in front of it and taking a pause. I love that picture the most because James was taking pictures of this event at the Spoke Easy, wandering around with his camera snapping shots, and he walked up to me and said something like “I have to take a picture of you,” and I said “no, please don’t, I hate pictures.” He said “well, why don’t you just pretend to be having fun,” or something or other, and I laughed awkwardly and he took this picture–and it was really good!

{see her favorite picture below}


You can find Hannah on Twitter at @djhannimal.

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