Alex Hendrickson with Patty Murray and Barack Obama
Alex Hendrickson with Patty Murray and Barack Obama (Photo: Alex Hendrickson)

Ear­li­er this week, Wash­ing­ton’s pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ty lost a gift­ed activist and leader when Alex (Heather) Hen­drick­son, forty-two, died sud­den­ly of a heart con­di­tion that also caused her moth­er’s death sev­en years ago.

Off to Thailand! Alex Hendrickson and her daughter
Off to Thai­land! (Pho­to: Alex Hendrickson)

Alex had just cel­e­brat­ed her forty-sec­ond birth­day on Decem­ber 7th.

A vet­er­an of many cam­paigns — from Ini­tia­tive 502 to Karen Fraser’s bid for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor to Shari Song’s 2014 run for Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate — Alex was wide­ly respect­ed for her tal­ents and ded­i­ca­tion to pro­gres­sive causes.

“Alex, in the time I knew her, was an Oba­ma cam­paign orga­niz­er, chair of the 38th Dis­trict Democ­rats (2011–12), man­ag­er of cam­paigns for Dar­cy Burn­er and Karen Fras­er in Wash­ing­ton and most recent­ly for Dan­ner Kline in Alaba­ma, as well as a PCO in Everett and Muk­il­teo,” her friend Jack Arends not­ed in a remem­brance this morn­ing. “She also was a mem­ber of the long line of grad­u­ates of the Insti­tute for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Future and thus a stu­dent of Jason Ben­nett. Oth­ers can fill in the rest.”

“But Alex was so much more: She was a lov­ing daugh­ter and sis­ter, a devot­ed moth­er to her daugh­ter, Julia, and a gen­er­ous and loy­al friend to so many of us.”

“She could daz­zle a room on for­mal occa­sions, but she was a fre­quent hock­ey bud­dy, too, quite at home in jeans and hood­ie at the rink.”

“And I still shake my head in won­der at how she hooked up my TV: She had to climb onto a shelf, then crawl behind the TV. Hou­di­ni would be proud.”

A dear friend to many pro­gres­sive can­di­dates, activists, and cam­paign man­age­ment pro­fes­sion­als in our region, Alex leaves behind a young daugh­ter, Julia Paige, who she want­ed to go to col­lege. A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds for Julia, and if you’d like to con­tribute, you can do so at this link.

Alex Hendrickson in Monument Valley
Alex Hen­drick­son in Mon­u­ment Val­ley (Pho­to: Alex Hendrickson)

In appre­ci­a­tion and recog­ni­tion of Alex’s ser­vice to pro­gres­sive caus­es, our team at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute will be posthu­mous­ly con­fer­ring upon her a Lynn Allen Award this Sun­day, Decem­ber 16th, at our Win­ter Hol­i­day Party.

If you’d like to attend the par­ty, please RSVP here.

NPI estab­lished the Lynn Allen Awards last year to hon­or found­ing NPI board­mem­ber and net­roots pio­neer Lynn Allen.

The Awards are the high­est hon­or that NPI bestows. We con­fer them on up to two indi­vid­u­als per year who have made indis­pens­able con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gres­sive caus­es. To date, three indi­vid­u­als have been hon­ored with Lynn Allen Awards: attor­ney Paul Lawrence (2017), Sound Tran­sit CEO Emer­i­tus Joni Earl (2017), and Major Gen­er­al Paul Eaton, Retired (2018). Alex will be our fourth honoree.

Lynn would be proud that we are rec­og­niz­ing Alex for her good works.

Alex’s full giv­en name was actu­al­ly Heather Lynn Hen­drick­son, so she shares a spe­cial con­nec­tion with our depart­ed sis­ter Lynn Allen.

The Awards we’ve named for Lynn are part of our efforts to keep her lega­cy alive.

We lost Lynn to ovar­i­an can­cer in 2011, but her spir­it has remained with us. (And so have her pub­lished works, which are pre­served by NPI at Rebuild­ing Democ­ra­cy.)

Lynn believed in the impor­tant work of orga­niz­ing rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and act­ing on issues of con­cern to peo­ple liv­ing far away from our big cities and urban areas. She believed in the pol­i­tics of inclu­sion. As com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Washington’s Future, she trav­eled reg­u­lar­ly to Washington’s rur­al coun­ties and small towns, cham­pi­oning sus­tain­able busi­ness and agri­cul­tur­al practices.

A skilled facil­i­ta­tor and gift­ed lis­ten­er, Lynn under­stood the impor­tance of and need for effec­tive activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.

And not a day will go by when those of us who knew Alex won’t miss her.

Thank you, Alex, for all you did, espe­cial­ly the behind-the-scenes work that most will nev­er know about, but which has helped so many.

We will miss you, but you’ll nev­er be forgotten.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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