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Posted On: Jul. 29, 2007 12:00 AM CST


Managing Director, Public Entity & Scholastic Division
Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc.
Baton Rouge, La.
Age: 49


Like many industry professionals following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, 2006 was a busy year for Nancy Sylvester, whose accomplishments include co-authoring legislation allowing Louisiana state public housing programs the flexibility of combining lines of coverage and testifying before lawmakers to gain its approval, and working as a contractor for the Orleans Parish School Board to navigate its post-Katrina insurance issues. Earlier this year, she was contracted as a consultant to assist New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with its insurance program. After spending 15 years as a public entity risk manager for various municipalities and school districts, she is revered for her in-depth understanding of risk management issues facing public entities. A top producer since joining Gallagher in 2000, Ms. Sylvester was recognized in 2006 as a top 10 producer for all of Arthur J. Gallagher’s North American retail brokerage operations and producer of the year for its mid-South region.


Greatest influence: "Early in my career, I was fortunate to associate with a very wise and experienced insurance/claims professional, Ben Franklin. (Yes, his name is Ben Franklin. He currently is the claims supervisor for Calcasieu Schools in Lake Charles, La.) From Ben, I learned so much: show up early, work hard, read the fine print, speak the truth and, most importantly, treat people how you wish to be treated. Add a little humor to the mix and everything works out fine. All very basic, all very critical."


Best professional advice: "Years ago as I was struggling with a board matter, the finance director at the time, Steve Fortenberry (currently with McKinney Independent School District in Texas), made a comment, 'Know the difference between preference and principle.'"


Early aspirations: "I wanted to be a lawyer and life got in the way. My next choice was risk management, which led to my current position. With risk management and insurance, every day is different. I have never been bored."

2007 Women to Watch Home