Indiana State Treasurer to be NAST's new president in 2021

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Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell will be the new National Association of State Treasurers president starting next year as states maneuver through intense fiscal distress.

Mitchell was elected on Tuesday by NAST members at their virtual Annual Business & Membership meeting, succeeding Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver Deborah Goldberg. Mitchell has been Treasurer of Indiana since 2014 and was elected to a second term in 2018. She manages about $9 billion on a daily basis.

Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell is the National Association of State Treasurer's president starting Jan. 1, 2021.

In her one-year term, Mitchell hopes to strengthen connections among state treasurers as the pandemic makes in-person communication less feasible.

Her year as president follows an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. States are facing a $121 billion decline in state tax collections in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 compared to FY 2019, according to the Tax Foundation.

“We’re all facing this economic fallout together,” Mitchell said. “We’re all facing learning to work from home together. We’re working virtually, we’re facing cybersecurity issues. There are just all these things that we’re all facing together and we all can learn from each other.”

As the elections approach in November, Mitchell wants to continue to focus on long-term NAST initiatives.

“It is a critical time for state fiscal policies and programs, and I plan to solidify and build upon our strong commitment to expanding college savings, increasing access to financial education, retirement savings, and ABLE programs, and supporting outstanding debt management and the return of unclaimed property,” Mitchell said in a press release.

NAST has long advocated for expanding the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act savings plans. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Mitchell wants to see the age for eligibility under the program be expanded from the onset of disability before age 26 to before age 46.

Currently, only people who have a qualifying disability prior to age 26 are eligible to be an ABLE account.

NAST is also working to improve 529 plans, which are a tax-advantaged way for families to save for college. In May, the association sent out a resolution to promote awareness of 529 plans, saying only 35% of Americans were aware of the plans.

“We may be looking at a new Congress, we might be looking at a different administration, but we’ll stay focused on those issues and certainly on our member education,” Mitchell said.

As for future in-person events, Mitchell is hopeful that NAST can meet in-person in 2021, but said in reality, that may not happen.

Before becoming treasurer, Mitchell worked as the director of Indiana’s local government investment pool at the Indiana Treasurer of State’s office. Before that, she served eight years as a county commissioner in Cass County, Indiana.

Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Valparaiso University and a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from Indiana University. In 2018, Mitchell received a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Mitchell lives in Indianapolis with her husband, four children and two grandchildren. In her free time, Mitchell said she likes to go on runs and cook.

Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden will be NAST senior vice president and South Dakota State Treasurer Josh Haeder will be secretary-treasurer.

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