Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Michael O. Leavitt (2005–2009): Secretary of Health and Human Services

Michael Okerlund Leavitt was born February 11, 1951, in Cedar City, Utah. He graduated with a bachelor degree in economics and business from Southern Utah University. He then served as President and chief executive officer of a regional insurance firm.

In 1992, Leavitt won election as governor of Utah. He served for eleven years, and during his tenure, he worked closely with the federal government to increase flexibility for states in managing federal health care programs. He also led efforts to reform welfare and Medicaid, and worked to promote environmental management. During his years as governor, Utah was voted one of the country's best managed states six times.

Leavitt resigned as governor of Utah in 2003 when President George W. Bush appointed him head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, he worked on clean air initiatives and a plan to clean up the Great Lakes. On December 13, 2004, President Bush nominated Leavitt as secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services to succeed Tommy Thompson. He was confirmed by the Senate on January 26, 2005.