2014 Giant in our City: Gov. Michael O. Leavitt2017-03-07T15:06:21+00:00

2014 Giant in our City: Gov. Michael O. Leavitt


Governor Michael O. Leavitt embodies the hopes, dreams, and beliefs of Utah, a youthful, energetic state with great promise. Asked once by a reporter how he would like people to remember him and the Leavitt years, he replied: “I’d like them to say that I fulfilled our obligation to future generations, that there was never a question that I was looking after Utah’s best interest, and that I left the state better than I found it.”  His service in the public and private sector have illustrated that his desire has been more than fulfilled in Utah and across the nation.

Governor Leavitt was born and raised in Cedar City, Utah and earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Southern Utah University. He often says if you combine the early television programs “Leave it to Beaver” and “Bonanza,” it would provide a good picture of his youth in rural Utah. Upon graduation, He served as president and chief executive officer of Leavitt Group, a regional insurance firm, establishing it as one of the top insurance brokers in America.

Governor Leavitt entered public service in 1992 when he became Utah’s 14th governor, a position the people of Utah elected him to three times. Prior to leaving the statehouse to work in the Bush Administration, he was the nation’s longest-serving governor and only the second governor in Utah history to be reelected to a third term. During his eleven years of service, Utah was recognized six times as one of America’s best managed states, was named “best place to locate a business”, and hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

In 1994, the Utah legislature passed Gov. Leavitt’s “Healthprint,” a comprehensive, incremental approach to health care improvement in the state. A decade later, Utah has more than 400,000 additional people with health insurance, marked increases in the number of children with health care coverage, dramatically improved immunization rates and per capita cost of healthcare 25% below the national average. He was chosen by the nation’s governors to represent the states in Congress on welfare reform, Medicaid and children’s health insurance. He was chosen by his peers as Chairman of the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association and Republican Governors Association because of his ability to solve problems across partisan lines.

In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Governor Leavitt to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. While at EPA, Leavitt signed the Clean Air Diesel Rule, implemented new, more-protective air quality standards for ozone and fine particle pollution and organized a regional collaboration of national significance to clean and protect the Great Lakes.

Governor Leavitt became the 20<sup>th</sup> Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on January 26, 2005. As secretary, he led national efforts to protect the health of all Americans and provide essential human services to those in need. He managed the largest civilian department in the federal government, with more than 66,000 employees and a budget that accounted for almost one out of every four federal dollars.  He led the implementation of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. The task required the design, systematization and implementation of a plan to provide 43 million seniors with a new prescription drug benefit. By the end of the first year, enrollments exceeded projections, prices were lower than projected and seniors expressed high levels of satisfaction.

Leavitt’s strategic ability can be seen in his redesign of the nation’s system of quality and safety standards for imported goods. In the spring of 2006, President Bush assigned him to lead a government-wide response. Within months, Leavitt recommended a major strategic shift in U.S. policy on import regulation and trade.

Collaborator is a word that comes up repeatedly when one examines Leavitt’s background. He is a seasoned diplomat, leading U.S. delegations to more than 50 countries. He has conducted negotiations on matters related to health, the environment and trade. At the conclusion of his service, the Chinese government awarded him the China Public Health Award – the first time this award has ever been given to a foreign government official.   His new book—<em>Finding Allies, Building Alliances</em>—was released in September 2013 by Jossey-Bass Publishers and chronicles his expertise and passion for collaboration.

Governor Leavitt is, at heart, an entrepreneur.  Upon the conclusion of his formal public service, Governor Leavitt returned to Utah and founded Leavitt Partners, a health intelligence firm.  As chairman and founder, Governor Leavitt helps business navigate the uncertainties of health care. In the Spring <strong>OR SUMMER</strong> of 2012, Governor Romney tapped Governor Leavitt to lead his transition efforts for his presidential campaign.  As Chairman for the Romney Readiness Project where he led a team of hundreds of advisers tasked with crafting an ambitious agenda for Governor Romney’s first 200 days in office.  He often characterizes the experience as “building a great ship”.  Most recently, he has co-chaired Count My Vote, an initiative aimed at increasing voter participation by including all voters in the nomination process through direct primary elections.

He and his wife Jackie have been married nearly 37 years and reside in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have five children and eleven grandchildren.




Ian M. Cumming Family | George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation | Jon and Karen Huntsman


Chase | Coldwell Banker Commercial Intermountain | The Grand America Hotel | Ivory Homes | Modern Display | O.C. Tanner | Okland Construction | Rio Tinto Kennecott | Sinclair


Alexander’s | Avalanche Studios | Big-D Construction | CBRE | Jacobsen Construction | KeyBank | Layton Construction Co. | Leavitt Group | SelectHealth | MediaOne Utah | SME Steel Industries | Staker Parson | The Boyer Company | The Buckner Company | University Hospitals & Clinics | Wheeler Machinery Co.