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John Kitzhaber

Governor, State of Oregon, USA

John Kitzhaber was born in Colfax, Washington, on March 5, 1947. He moved with his family to Oregon at age 11, and graduated from South Eugene High School in 1965. After earning his Bachelor's degree at Dartmouth College, he returned to Oregon to study medicine at the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU). Upon becoming a doctor, he practiced emergency room medicine in Roseburg, Oregon, from 1974 to 1988.

John Kitzhaber's interest in health care public policy, together with a deep concern for the livelihoods of rural Oregonians and a deep love for Oregon's natural heritage, compelled him to seek public service. He first won election to the Oregon Legislature in 1978, and served a term in the Oregon House of Representatives. In 1980, he won election to the Oregon State Senate, and served three terms, leading to his election to the office of Senate President in 1985, a post he held until 1993.

He accomplished much as a legislator, but his most memorable achievement was to bring lawmakers and interest groups together to enact the ground-breaking Oregon Health Plan. Tens of thousands of low and moderate-income Oregon families and their children still have access to health care because of this work.

In 1994, and again in 1998, Oregonians elected John Kitzhaber as their governor. While leading state government, Governor Kitzhaber presided over eight years of significant economic growth. The Governor won acclaim for his pioneering work on the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, a collaborative effort that brought together government and private landowners to protect clean water and native salmon runs. And before he left office, Governor Kitzhaber helped launch the Oregon Business Plan, a bipartisan strategic framework developed collaboratively among business leaders, community leaders and elected officials. Until this time, Oregon had lacked a comprehensive plan to create jobs and grow its economy.

After two terms, John Kitzhaber continued his work to improve access to cost-effective health care, becoming one of the nation's most respected voices on health care reform. Concerned about the impact of the fiscal crisis on Oregonians, and seeing the opportunity through that crisis to create true systemic change, Kitzhaber ran for Governor again in 2010 and won election to an unprecedented third term.

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