Andy Josephson ’88 and John-Henry Heckendorn ’12 pose with one of Andy’s campaign signs.

John-Henry Heckendorn ’12, the former politics/economics major and champion debater from Andover, Mass., spent his first summer as a post-grad in Anchorage, running a State House campaign for Alaska’s District 15. He plans to remain there at least until after the election this November.

And the candidate? That would be Whitman alumnus Andy Josephson ’86. A native of Alaska, Josephson earned a master’s in teaching after graduating from Whitman and went on to attend law school. He has taught constitutional law at the University of Alaska, served as a prosecutor in an Eskimo village and worked in private practice for the better part of the past 10 years. This is his first political campaign.

“After I decided to run for office, I had this epiphany that I would call Whitman for someone to help with the campaign,” Josephson said. “So I called the chair of the politics department and said ‘give me your best and brightest.’ When I hired John-Henry, it was a little bit like or eHarmony. Neither of us had seen the other, but we’d spoken on the phone a number of times. Luckily, we hit it off.”

For Heckendorn, the Whitman alumni network played a crucial role in helping him land the position. Not only was he hired by an alumnus, but he says the Whitman community in Anchorage helped him settle in and find a place to stay.

“I came out to Anchorage with very few friends here,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody except a couple of current Whitman students, and yet now I already feel like I have a community in place. I’ve had offers from alumni for places to stay, invitations for home cooked meals, suggestions about fun things to do and opportunities to buy or rent a car for the summer. The extent to which the Whitman community supported my move really surprised me.”

In Anchorage, Heckendorn also met with prominent public relations expert and Alumni Board member Mary Deming Barber ’78, who advised him on campaign strategies and the local political landscape.

Share your Whitman connection

Members of the Whitman family share a special bond, and they support each other long after they leave college. If you’ve received career mentoring from a fellow Whittie or provided career mentoring for a fellow Whittie, go to and write about it. Selected contributions will appear in Whitties Helping Whitties, a new column in the Class Notes section of Whitman Magazine. All submissions subject to editing.