Mary Bennett

Director of the Micheal O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service


Specializing in U.S. campaigns and elections, government relations, and public policy and advocacy



Mary Weaver Bennett is the director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at Southern Utah University. She is a specialist in legislative and regulatory policy matters for the financial services industry, specializing in electronic payments, fintech, government relations, advocacy and communications.

Before moving to southern Utah, Bennett was the director of government and industry relations for the Electronic Transactions Association in Washington, DC, where she led federal and state public affairs strategy, lobbying and outreach initiatives. Bennett’s professional experience spans over 25 years in a range of Washington, DC institutions including the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, The Washington Campus and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board under the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bennett is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She most recently served as president of Red Ridge Consulting, LLC, and as an expert advisor for Blackline Advisory Group in Nashville, TN.


2 min

SUU Receives Silver Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement

Presented by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, Southern Utah University has been honored with a silver seal for achieving a student voting rate of 35.9% in the 2018 midterm elections. “The Leavitt Center is proud to receive this national recognition on behalf of SUU,” said Mary Bennett, director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service at SUU. “We will continue our efforts to inspire faculty, staff, and students to participate in the 2020 election. We are committed to reduce voter apathy, increase engagement, and graduate civic-minded students prepared to solve the country’s, and the world’s, most pressing challenges.”Overall student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. And according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%. At SUU, the voter rate increased by 18.7 points between 2014 and 2018. Led by Bennett, the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service works to increase the civic engagement of students at SUU. Through an action plan to increase civic engagement, the Leavitt Center is working to increase voter turnout rates. The first long-term goal of the Leavitt Center is to increase voter turnout by 10% in the 2020 election. Voter turnout numbers are considerably higher during the national elections, so in 2018 the focus was to increase voter education and engagement with state and local elections. To support this goal, the Leavitt Center hosts at least two state or local candidates each semester and has at least one event that covers local politics. “We are excited to honor SUU with an ALL IN Challenge silver seal,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “Institutions like SUU are changing the culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.Bennett’s professional experience spans over 25 years in a range of Washington, DC institutions including the US House of Representatives, and the US Senate. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.

Mary  Bennett

2 min

Midterm Elections - The Day After

The day after … with Democrats taking the House and Republicans stronger in the Senate – what can we expect for the next two years?It was a night most pundits expected – a DNC surge in Congress, as voters held the Trump administration to account. High voter turnout led to a long night and many close races across the country.Surprisingly, the Republicans bolstered their position in the Senate, giving them enough wiggle room now with a comfortable four seat majority.But what can Americans expect moving forward? A Democratic House could see DNC controlled committees putting forward an army of subpoenas from everything including the Russia investigation, to the President’s tax returns and all things in between. A Republican Senate now has a clear and simple path for appointments and nominations.But now that it is over, will the two houses be able to work together to pass legislation and budgets? For the good of the country and for the sake of progress will much needed cooperation and compromise be an opportunity to over come America’s great political divide?Or will this be two years of chaos, bickering and a country stuck between political divisions?What lies ahead is not an easy question – and that’s where the political experts from Southern Utah University can help.Mary Weaver Bennett is the director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at Southern Utah University. She spent over 25 years in a range of Washington, DC institutions and specializes in U.S. midterm elections and American politics.Dr. G. Michael Stathis is a professor of political science and an expert in the fields of American Government international relations.Donna Law is the Executive Director of Development and Government Relations at Southern Utah University and can speak about the impacts of government and higher education in Utah and across America.Douglas F. Bennett joined Southern Utah University in 2014 after a long and successful career in Washington D.C. He now chairs the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at SUU and is an expert in trade, global relations and political organization.Dr. Angela Pool-Funai is director of the Master of Public Administration program at Southern Utah University and an assistant professor of political science and public administration. She is an expert in the areas of taxation and tax policy.All of these experts are available to speak with media – simply click on any of their icons to arrange an interview today.

Mary  BennettG. Michael StathisDouglas Bennett

2 min

Even It Up - Women in Public Service

Utah Senator Evan Vickers and Utah Board of Regents Vice Chair Nina Barnes are hosting an event at Southern Utah University geared to inform women in Cedar City and Iron county about opportunities to engage in community and public service. The event features local officials whose experience can help guide those looking to get involved in their community.Panelists include Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson Edwards, Cedar City Councilmember Scott Phillips, Iron County School District Board member Michelle Lambert, Enoch City Councilmember Jolene Lee, and Cedar City Planning Commission member Jennie Hendricks.Donna Law, executive director of development and government relations at Southern Utah University, believes that it is in the interest of all of us to have more women involved in all aspects of community and public service. “This event is intended to help inform women about the local opportunities that are available and ways to get involved. Our panelists will share their experiences of getting engaged, running for office and in general, making a difference in our communities.”Mary Weaver Bennett directs the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, an interdisciplinary hub for leadership opportunities, experiential learning, citizenship education, humanitarian service, and public policy research on SUU’s campus. “We are delighted to be able to highlight the service of impressive and capable women in the Iron County area. This is the first of multiple events we will sponsor to cultivate interest in public service, encourage civic action, and guide those who seek to serve in public office.”This event is co-sponsored by the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, SUU Alumni & Community Relations, Real Women Run at the YWCA, a collaborative nonpartisan initiative of YWCA Utah to empower women to participate fully in public life and civic leadership, and the Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle, a community of women who fund projects and programs to support women and girls in the “three corners” region: southern Utah, northwest Arizona, and Mesquite, Nevada.The event will be held Thursday, September 27 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Southern Utah University Alumni House (300 West and University BLVD). Please RSVP at

Mary  Bennett
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Industry Expertise

Government Relations
Political Organization
Public Policy

Areas of Expertise

Utah Political Candidates
Utah Legislative Body
Political Communication
Congressional Campaigns
Regulatory Policy for Financial Industries
Strategic Planning
Government Relations
Legislative and Regulatory Policy
Outreach Education
Public Affairs
Political Education Programs
Legislation for Financial Industries
Auditing Public Companies
Securities and Exchange Commission
Utah Politics
Political Associations
Women in Public Service


Pennsylvania State University


Political Science



Red Ridge Consulting, LLC

Industry Expert

BlackLine Advisory Group

Director of Government and Industry Relations

Electronic Transactions Association, Washington, DC


  • AAUW
  • Friends of SUMA
  • Kayenta Arts Foundation
  • Windhorse Relations

Media Appearances

Daylight Saving Time is one of the top constituent complaints, but the Utah State Legislature won’t hear a bill

Fox 13  online


Southern Utah University's Leavitt Center for Politics and Policy recently hosted a "pizza and politics" debate on it. Students were evenly split on whether to keep or dump Daylight Saving Time.

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Mitt Romney visits with Southern Utah University Students

Good4Utah  tv


Southern Utah University students had a visit from Mitt Romney Thursday who stopped by to speak to students and gather signatures.

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SUU names new director of Leavitt Center for Politics

Deseret News  online


Southern Utah University has named Mary Weaver Bennett as the new director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service. Bennett brings 25 years of professional experience in Washington, D.C, to the position.

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