Michael O. Leavitt
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has new leadership whose work has nothing to do with reading music or directing the Choir with a baton. On August 6, 2021, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the call of Michael O. Leavitt as the eighth president of the Choir succeeding Ron Jarrett who has served since August 2012.
The First Presidency also announced a new structure for Choir leadership. Leavitt will be joined by his wife Jacalyn in fulfilling this new role. Two counselors, to be named later, will complete the presidency. The organization structure parallels one commonly used in Church missions around the world.
Leavitt is excited to work with the 700 dedicated volunteers serving in the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and its companion ensembles, the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells at Temple Square, as well as the talented professional and volunteer staff. Both President and Sister Leavitt love music and the peace it brings to the soul. They anticipate meeting with the Choir on August 26 for its first rehearsal since the interruption of Choir organization activity in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
President Leavitt, former governor of Utah with extensive executive experience in government and diplomatic circles, is uniquely prepared to expand the reach of the Choir and its music to national and international audiences. As a seasoned leader, he is known as both an innovator and collaborator. Most importantly he and Jackie are long-time admirers of the Choir musical organization and its music.
Three times President Leavitt was elected governor by the citizens of the state of Utah, 1993-2003. He left office to serve on a national level in the presidential cabinet of George W. Bush from 2003 to 2009, first as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and then as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. In that post, he managed the largest civilian department in the federal government with more than 55,000 employees and a budget that accounted for almost one of every four federal dollars. Following government service, he founded and chaired Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm focused on advising clients in the healthcare and food safety sectors. In April 2021 Leavitt Partners joined with Health Management Associates.
Jackie also brings a depth of experience to her new position. She is an accomplished educator, speaker, and author of the children’s book series Faux Paws, tales of a cat learning to safely navigate the internet. She worked effectively as First Lady of Utah to establish programs to strengthen families and children. As a graduate of both Dixie State and Utah State University, she participated in many dramatic and musical productions.
With roots deep in the state of Utah, the Leavitts have dedicated much of their lives in service to others. President Leavitt was born in Cedar City, graduated from Southern Utah University, and went to work in the family business. His ancestors were hearty pioneers who left their homes in Scandinavia with other converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help settle what was the rugged western wilderness of the Great Basin. Their legacy of determination, grit, a sense of purpose, and vision is reflected in President Leavitt as well.
Jackie grew up in Cache Valley in the community of Newton and attended both Dixie College and Utah State graduating with high honors. During the Leavitts’ 11 years in the governorship and in their service in Washington, Jackie distinguished herself on the national stage with her advocacy for families, and the strength that they contribute to a vibrant society. The Leavitts’ five children were fortunate in Jackie’s ability to maintain a close-knit, structured family life in the midst of the pressures of government service. She will bring that understanding and emphasis on balance to her new role with the Choir.