NASACT Announces 2019 Hall of Fame
Section: NASACT

Four individuals were recognized during a Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on Tuesday, August 20. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT) in Scottsdale, Arizona. The inductees were:
  • Martin J. Benison, former comptroller of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • John F. Rogan, former director of finance of Wisconsin.
  • Jan I. Sylvis, former chief of accounts of Tennessee.
  • Mary Ellen Withrow, former state treasurer of Ohio and former U.S. treasurer.
Click to view a video about the inductees.

The NASACT Hall of Fame was conceived to honor those who have made major and enduring impacts on state government financial management. The Hall of Fame is meant to memorialize the vision, accomplishments, and lasting impacts of leaders among the Association’s membership and the broader NASACT community.

Left to right: NASACT Executive Director Kinney Poynter, Martin Benison and NASACT President Clark Partridge.   Left to right: Kinney Poynter, Gary Sylvis, Jan Sylvis and Clark Partridge.
Left to right: Kinney Poynter, Pat Rogan, Jack Rogan and Clark Partridge.   Left to right: Kinney Poynter, Leslie Legge, Mary Ellen Withrow and Clark Partridge.

Nominees to the Hall of Fame were evaluated on four main criteria.
  1. Promotion or enhancement of government accountability, efficiency or effectiveness.
  2. Improvement of state government.
  3. Impact upon the lives of citizens or upon those employed by state governments.
  4. And peer recognition of excellence and achievement.
Martin J. Benison served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for over 30 years. Beginning as director of revenue for the House Committee on Ways and Means, he moved on to serve as budget director and then became deputy comptroller in 1992. In 1996 he was awarded Harvard University’s Robert F. Bradford Fellowship allowing him to receive an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Benison was sworn in as the seventeenth comptroller of the commonwealth in 1999, and was appointed to three additional terms. He is the longest serving comptroller in the history of the commonwealth.
Throughout his career, Benison has used innovative ideas to facilitate system improvements, automate financial management and business functions, increase government transparency, and foster productive partnerships for the common good.
He was elected the first chair of the U.S. Treasury Financial Management Services’ ASAP Customer Advisory Board, which served as the voice of the customer as the U.S. Treasury worked to issue more timely payments to grant recipients. He was chairman of the GASAC from 2009 through 2015, a time that saw the issuance of numerous standards from the GASB, including Statements 67 and 68 on accounting and financial reporting for pension plans.
Benison was a former founding co-chair of the AGA’s Intergovernmental Partnership, bringing federal, state and local governments together to tackle cross government issues. He chaired the Multi-State Alliance on Electronic Receipts, which worked to remove obstacles to the use of cost-effective electronic payment options by governments. From 2001 through 2014 he served on the AICPA’s Professional Ethics Executive Committee.
An active member of the NASACT community, Benison was president of NASC in 2006 and president of NASACT in 2012. 
Under his leadership, Massachusetts was one of the first participants in NASACT’s Benchmarking Program. In response to calls from the SEC and others for more timely financial information, he spearheaded the development of NASACT’s Best Practices for Voluntary Disclosure.
He has authored chapters in four books published over the last two decades on leadership in government and has received numerous national awards recognizing his significant contributions.
In 2015, Benison left the public sector to continue his career as Accenture’s director of state and local government, where he advises clients on application improvements and business process redesign.
Embodying the concept of continuous improvement, Benison has challenged those in his state and around the nation to strive for excellence. His curiosity, creativity and generosity have served him well on a path of service that continues today.
Jan I. Sylvis began working for the state of Tennessee in 1979, spending almost 12 years with the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury before moving to the Department of Finance and Administration. After four years as director of audit and consulting services, she became chief of accounts in 1995, a post she held until her retirement in December 2014.
As the state’s controller, Sylvis implemented Tennessee’s first financial data warehouse and developed the financial infrastructure for statewide e-commerce initiatives. She initiated the state’s web portal, providing citizen access to departmental financial transactions. Under her leadership, Tennessee was the first state to participate in NASACT’s Benchmarking Program, which was developed to measure state performance against peers and the private sector.
Serving during a time of rapid business process transformation, she leveraged data and innovative technology to improve financial operations for her state.
Sylvis was a member of the AICPA’s Government and Not-for-Profit Expert Panel. She was active in both NASC and NASACT, serving as president of NASC in 1999 and president of NASACT in 2007.
Also in 2007, she was selected to serve as a member of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. During her tenure, the Board addressed significant standards including Statements 67 and 68 on pensions, 74 and 75 on OPEB, and the financial reporting model project. In addition to serving as a regular board member, in 2015 Sylvis was named vice chair of the GASB and was tasked with facilitating stakeholder outreach and enhancing GASB’s communication to constituent groups.
Sylvis has been recognized for her commitment to government excellence and innovation by her peers with a number of awards, including several from AGA, as well as President’s Awards and Distinguished Service Awards from both NASC and NASACT. In 2017, she became the first woman to receive the NASC Louis L. Goldstein Distinguished Leadership Award.
Sylvis has been an inspiration and a mentor to many and has worked tirelessly during her career to improve government effectiveness and transparency at all levels.
John Francis Rogan has enjoyed a distinguished career in finance spanning over 25 years of service in the U.S. Army and 13 years with the state of Wisconsin.
Rogan began his career as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1946, where he served as a member of the finance school faculty at Fort Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. While in the Army, he moved through the ranks to become a lieutenant colonel in 1963, when he was named finance and accounting officer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He spearheaded much-needed change to the academy’s payroll, accounting and overall financial management procedures. Rogan capped his military service by achieving the rank of full colonel and serving as president of the local Army Finance Association Chapter prior to his retirement in 1970.
Following his military service, Rogan became Wisconsin’s state director of finance, a role he held for 13 years under five different governors. During this time, he worked to make significant changes to improve Wisconsin’s central payroll, accounting, audit and financial reporting procedures.
Rogan was president of NASACT in 1983, when he also represented NASACT on the Council of State Governments’ Board of Directors. He was a member of the National Council on Governmental Accounting and served on an earlier national state government accounting project committee which developed “Preferred Accounting Practices for State Governments.” During his tenure with NASACT, Rogan was a strong advocate for establishing and properly funding the new Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
He co-chaired the State-Federal Cash Management Reform Task Force, charged by the U.S. Senate with crafting proposed legislation to bring about the timely transfer of federal funds to the states. The work of this task force led to the eventual passage of the Cash Management Improvement Act of 1990, which continues today to promote an equitable cash management relationship between the federal government and the states.
During his 25 years of active military duty, he received numerous awards and honors. In 1992, he was inducted into the Army Finance Corps Hall of Fame.
Rogan’s long and distinguished career is marked by diligence, a strong commitment to process improvement, and an unshakable ability to build consensus on difficult issues.
Mary Ellen Withrow has had a long and noteworthy career in public service.
In 1969, she became the first woman elected to the Elgin Local School Board in her native Marion County, Ohio. In 1976, Withrow won election as the Marion County treasurer, and was re-elected in 1980. Before completing her second term, Ohio voters elected Withrow to be state treasurer, a post she held from 1982 through 1994. In this capacity she excelled. In 1990, City & State Newspaper selected her as the country's Most Valuable State Public Official.
As Ohio's state treasurer, Withrow instituted new programs, achieved record earnings, and was nationally recognized for her efficient management and commitment to fiscal responsibility. Of note were the STAR Ohio Program, which allowed government subdivisions to invest funds in a public investment pool, and Linked Deposit, which encouraged lending to historically underutilized businesses by providing lenders and borrowers a lower cost of capital.
Withrow served as president of the National Association of State Treasurers in 1992 and as president of NASACT in 1990.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated her as U.S. treasurer. The United States Senate confirmed her unanimously, making Withrow the first person to serve as treasurer at all three levels of government – local, state and national. She served in this position from March 4, 1994, until the end of President Clinton's term on January 21, 2001.
As U.S. Treasurer, Withrow introduced the State Quarters Project, and authorized the issuance of the Sacagawea dollar and the redesign of the five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred-dollar bills. She was awarded a Guinness World Record for having her name on more paper currency than anyone else in the country’s history.
Withrow is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Donald L. Scantlebury Memorial Award from the U.S. Treasury's Joint Financial Management Improvement Program.
Withrow is an activist for women in government and has served as a board member for the non-profit Women Executives in State Government. She is an inductee into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Women Executives in State Government fellowship to Harvard University.
A national model of fiscal integrity, and a tireless advocate for women in government, Withrow has been a champion of government excellence throughout her illustrious career.