2016 Tillman Scholar

Anthony Hatala

Marine Corps
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Progress does not materialize from complaints and change does not just happen from the sidelines.”

After the 9/11 attacks, as the country mobilized and subsequently deployed for war, Anthony felt the call to serve. On campus as a senior at Brown University, he witnessed intense discussion and thoughtful criticism of the U.S. military’s actions; yet, in his mind students weren’t getting involved to be the men and women in the arena, the ones actually taking risks and making tactical decisions in critical moments. He felt this was both a neglected responsibility and a missed opportunity.  Although he agreed with some of the critiques, he found his classmates’ collective absence from the ranks troubling. On the weekend of his college graduation, with the university president in attendance, he was the only graduate of the roughly 1400 in his class to receive a military commission.

Over the past twelve years, the Marine Corps has taught Anthony to always have a bias for action. He learned that progress does not materialize from complaints and change does not just happen from the sidelines.  While in uniform, he worked to improve efficiency in the Department of Defense because he abhorred the waste of time and human capital caused by outdated applications, policies, and procedures. As a junior officer, who frequently struggled to find resources on bases where he was training, he designed a database and built an application that would consolidate tens of thousands of phone numbers across hundreds of military bases. The information was managed centrally and consumed locally, enabling users to automatically pull the most current information right to their phone or computer.  Since then, BaseDirectory.com has grown into a huge, multi-year project and has helped over 1.5 million service members connect with the services they need.

By pursuing his MBA from MIT Sloan, Anthony wants to strengthen his leadership skills to serve at the intersection of technology and public service. Through his affinity for tech, desire to fix broken systems, and love for working on teams, he wants to help bring great technology to the government because he knows the transformative impact it can have on communities both within and beyond the military.