Jeannie Ritter
Former First Lady of Colorado
Mental Health Ambassador,
Mental Health Center of Denver
Denver, Colorado

Jeannie Lewis Ritter, the daughter of a U.S. Navy Captain, lived in Texas, Georgia, California, Washington, Rhode Island and North Carolina before settling in Colorado in 1972. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in special education, she volunteered with the Peace Corps in Tunisia. Jeannie married Bill Ritter in 1983. They spent three years in Zambia as lay missionaries, running food distribution and health education centers. Jeannie taught in Denver Public Schools for 10 years, specializing in classes for emotionally disturbed children.

Jeannie leads the Mental Health Ambassador initiative at the Mental health Center of Denver created to build public will for change. This movement is designed to inspire action to increase mental health literacy, expand support for mental health services, and ensure access to those services. Jeannie began her advocacy work around mental health and wellness while serving as First Lady of Colorado, 2007-2011. She currently serves as the co-chair of the legislative task force (House Bill 2013-1296) to make recommendations for updating Colorado’s civil commitment laws. She remains active in her community serving on numerous boards and committees, including the Depression Center, CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation), Rose Community Foundation Health Committee, the Colorado Coalition for Parity, Rocky Mountain PBS Board, Wells Fargo Bank Community Forum, and the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund.

The Ritters have four children–August, Abe, Sam and Tally.