SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt has been named as the new president of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. The announcement was made Friday morning by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to a press release, Leavitt will be joined by his wife, Jackie, in fulfilling this new role. He replaces Ron Jarrett, who has served as president of the choir since August 2012.
Leavitt said the assignment to lead the choir was a pleasant surprise and will be a great experience for him and his wife.
“The Tabernacle Choir has always been a conduit for me of spiritual feelings,” said Leavitt. “It provides a sense of peace, and I know I am not alone. That music is produced by remarkable, talented people, who give of themselves, and they need to be given the latitude to make that music. I think my job will be to make certain that it is a great experience for them.”
Leavitt was elected to three terms as governor of Utah, where he was lauded for his leadership during a period that saw both economic prosperity and hardship. During Leavitt’s 11 years as governor, Utah was named America’s best-managed state six times by independent public policy analysts.
From 2003 to 2009, Leavitt served twice in the cabinet of President George W. Bush. He was the 10th administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (2003–2005) and the 20th secretary of Health and Human Services (2005–2009). Among other endeavors since concluding his public service, Leavitt organized Leavitt Partners, a business that advises clients in the health care sector.
As president of the choir, Leavitt will manage operations, employees, and marketing and oversee the administrative components of the choir, including the supervision of over 700 volunteers in the choir organization. He said he hopes to couple his leadership experience with the choir’s renowned music, in expanding their reach.
“A global church needs a global choir, and I feel optimistic that we can expand even further to larger and more global audiences. We can harness the tools of technology, and we can assure that the product of the choir furthers the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Jackie Leavitt is a former teacher and served as the first lady of Utah, where she advocated for families and children. She is also an accomplished musician.
Since 1929, the choir has been a phenomenon of broadcasting, with the longest continuous broadcast on radio and later television. Music & the Spoken Word airs weekly on News Talk KVNU, Sundays at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.