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
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
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.