Elizabeth Curry Marie Hanson – Central Intelligence Agency Officer

7 January 2010:

A 1997 graduate of Keith Country Day School was killed last week in a suicide bombing at a CIA base in Afghanistan.

Elizabeth C. Hanson, 30, joined the CIA as a specialist in finding Islamic extremists and was part of a team collecting information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a report in The New York Times.

Keith officials learned of Hanson’s death this week — seven other people were killed in the December 30, 2009, attack — and confirmed Thursday that Hanson was a student there from 1993 to 1997.

“She was very outgoing,” said Sherrilyn Martin, who teaches Latin and ancient Greek. “I remember her with a great deal of affection and admiration for what she did at Keith and her commitment later.”

Martin, chairman of the foreign language department, said Hanson took Latin for four years. “I taught her for three of those years. She was a very good, steady student.

“She was always seeking academic challenges. She took a lot of advanced courses, especially in the sciences and math. She also took European AP. She was interested in international relations already as a high schooler.”

Looking through Keith’s 1997 yearbook, Martin found that Hanson was voted by her peers as “most talkative.”

Martin said she and her colleagues were struck by the quotes Hanson listed in the yearbook:

* “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” — novelist Ursula Le Guin.

* “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” — poet (Matsuo) Basho.

“We feel very sad that her journey was so short, but we hope it was a fulfilling one,” Martin said.

Kathy Scarpaci served as Keith’s admissions director when Hanson enrolled at the college-prep school.

“I remember her as a very bright and vibrant and enthusiastic young woman with a smile on her face. I do know she was very good at foreign languages. When I heard the work she was involved in, it made sense.”

After Keith, Hanson attended historic liberal arts Colby College in Maine.

Hanson majored in economics, with a concentration in financial markets and Russian language/culture, and frequently made the dean’s list.

Hanson’s father, Duane Hanson Jr., who initially said the family would make a statement today, did not return phone calls for comment.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois—State Representative Dave Winters (R-Rockford) passed House Resolution 826, mourning the death of Elizabeth C. Hanson, a Rockford resident who was tragically killed while defending America’s freedom at a remote base in the mountains of Afghanistan December 30, 2009.

“We lost a true hero from Rockford,” said Winters. “Elizabeth should be an inspiration to us all to do great things and to serve our country.”

Hanson was born in February 1979 in Rockford, and was the daughter of Duane Hanson Jr. She graduated from Keith Country Day School in 1997, and attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, majoring in economics with a concentration in financial markets and Russian language and culture. After the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Hanson was prompted to explore the relationship between religion and economics and to dedicate her life to defending America’s freedom.

Hanson joined the CIA as a specialist and was charged with the tasks of finding Islamic extremists and gathering information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The resolution resolves that we mourn, along with her family, friends and the citizens of a grateful nation, the passing of Elizabeth C. Hanson. A copy of the resolution will be presented to the Hanson family.

CIA Agent Elizabeth Hanson
Remember Our Heroes

In a telephone interview, her father, Duane Hanson Jr., said an agency official called several days ago to let him know that his daughter, who he said would have turned 31 next month, had been killed. He knew little of her work, other than that she had been in Afghanistan. “I begged her not to go,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Do you know how dangerous that is? That’s for soldiers.’ ”

Known for her curiosity and chattiness, Elizabeth Hanson saw life as an adventure to be embraced, judging from the quote she chose to run next to her high school yearbook photo in Rockford,Illinois.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end,” read the quote, by author Ursula K. LeGuin.

On Thursday, Hanson's family, friends and teachers expressed shock and sadness after learning that the 30-year-old was one of several CIA agents killed Dec. 30 in a suicide bombing while gathering intelligence on al-Qaida at a remote base in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The four CIA agents, along with three American security guards and a Jordanian intelligence officer, died after the bomber had been invited to a meeting, supposedly to pass along important information. Officials said he turned out to be a double agent.

“We're very proud of her,” said Hanson's brother, Duane Hanson III, confirming her death to the Associated Press.

In Rockford, where Elizabeth Hanson grew up, her friends and teachers at Keith Country Day School remembered her Thursday as friendly and outgoing. They also expressed surprise at her career.

Her nickname was “Bitsy” and she was voted most talkative girl by her senior class, said her Latin teacher Sherrilyn Martin. Hanson took advanced placement classes, loved tennis and worked on the yearbook. She also was in the Junior Engineering Technical Society, Martin said.

“Even though her journey was short, I certainly hope it was very fulfilling for her,” Martin said. “Those who remember her do so with great affection and admiration, both for what she did overseas and what she did while she was here.”

After graduating in 1997, Hanson majored in economics and minored in Russian language and literature at Colby College in Maine. She graduated in 2002.

Michael Donihue, an economics professor at Colby, said he was struck by Hanson's intellectual curiosity and desire to understand the world around her.

“She was thoughtful and asked the types of questions that indicate she was thinking beyond the textbook,” he said, though he too was surprised by her CIA work.

Just after September 11, 2001, she wrote a thesis titled “Faithless Heathens: Scriptural Economics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” The paper explored economic principles through the lens of the three religions.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/14/1979
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/30/2009






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