2006 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll
Wyandotte High School, 1966
Ellen Hanson never misses the chance to tell people where she’s from. She’s proud to be a product of the Kansas City, Kansas School District and feels a strong attachment to her hometown.
She’s a great advocate for the community, not just because of her strong convictions, but also because of her career status. When she talks, people listen.
Hanson is the chief of police for the Lenexa Police Department. A 30-year veteran of the department, she became the first female chief in the department’s history in 1991. She loves her work, and believes one of the most important aspects of it is helping her staff to develop into strong leaders.
Growing up, she had no aspirations of law enforcement. In fact, in college she studied political science and planned to become a counselor. A counseling practicum at the state penitentiary in Lansing changed that. She became interested in being a parole officer and when looking for a job, she came across a patrol officer position in Lenexa. She was the first female to be hired on the force, and she never felt a sense of discrimination from her co-workers. In fact, she thrived on the opportunities that were open to her as a minority.
Hanson is a 1980 graduate of the FBI National Academy and past president of the Johnson County Chiefs and Sheriffs Association and Metropolitan Chiefs and Sheriff’s Association. In 1996, she was named the Clarence M. Kelley Law Enforcement Administrator of the Year.
She remembers her years growing up in the KCK schools as enjoyable and rewarding. Her parents gave her reasons to believe in herself by encouraging her in all that she undertook. She saw her female teachers as career women and role models.
Hanson believes education is a powerful tool that opens students’ minds to new ideas and helps them to see the world around them.