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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.


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Jeff Ritterman, MD

Jeff Ritterman is former Chief of Cardiology, Kaiser Richmond Medical Center; Richmond, California, City Councilmember (elected in November of 2008); and was appointed Vice Mayor of the City of Richmond from January 2010 to January 2011.

Jeff Ritterman was born in Brooklyn, New York. When he was 6 years old, the family moved to the suburbs on Long Island, where Jeff lived until leaving for college during the turbulent 1960s. At the University of Wisconsin, Jeff majored in biology and began the political activism which has continued throughout his life. He was active in the peace movement and in the grape boycott, supporting the United Farmworkers Union. After college, Jeff worked for two years as a VISTA volunteer teaching runaway and dropout high school students in Madison, Wisconsin. He attended medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia. 

Dr. Ritterman trained for three years in Internal Medicine and then completed a two year fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases in Seattle, Washington. He began his career as Chief of Cardiology at the Kaiser Richmond Medical Center, where he worked to serve the Richmond community for 30 years. Dr. Ritterman retired from Kaiser in November of 2010.

Dr. Ritterman has been active in international health. In the 1980s, he started the Committee for Health Rights in Central America to help provide medical relief to refugees from the civil war in El Salvador. He personally delivered medical supplies to Salvadoran refugees living in United Nations sponsored refugee camps in Honduras, and Costa Rica. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Ritterman founded the Southern African Medical Aid Fund to help those suffering under apartheid. He personally delivered medical supplies to the medical clinics of the African National Congress in Zambia and to clinics serving the poor throughout South Africa. With his partner Vivien Feyer, Dr. Ritterman traveled to the Iraqi border, delivering medical supplies to refugees from the bombing in Fallujah. Recently, the couple traveled to Iran on a peace-building mission. Both speak widely on the medical, humanitarian and environmental consequences of war.

In addition to his international work, Dr. Ritterman has been working to improve health in his own local community. He has served on the Public and Environmental Health Advisory Board of Contra Costa County since 1990. He is on the steering committee of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR, and serves on the Richmond Mayor’s Task Force on Environmental Justice and Environmental Health). Dr. Ritterman has received numerous awards for his work both as a doctor and as a community activist. In 2007, he received the Man of Merit Certificate of Recognition for “being a positive influence in the lives of boys and young men in Contra CostaCounty.” He has been awarded with the distinguished Karis “caring physician” award and the Donald P. Fisher award for excellence. The Kaiser Permanente Medical Group recognized him with their prestigious “Everyday Hero” award.

The proud father of a large combined family, Dr. Ritterman has children who are active in the fields of Public Health, Psychology, Music, Medical Technology and Engineering.


The World Would Change Tomorrow, July 28, 2011