History of North Carolina Treasurers

During the early days of the Carolina Colony, a Treasurer’s Court was established in 1669 to handle public money. The office of the Treasurer was created by the ​legislature and appointments to the office were made by the lower house of the Colonial Assembly. Between 1777 and 1779 there was one treasurer for each of the northern and southern districts. Four additional treasurers were added in 1779, and another in 1782, for a total of seven treasurers each serving a specifically defined geographical region of the state.

In 1784, the General Assembly eliminated the multiple districts and assigned the duties of the office to a single State Treasurer elected by a joint vote of both houses for a two-year term. This arrangement continued until 1868, when a new state constitution provided that the State Treasurer would be popularly elected by the people of North Carolina for a four-year term.

The Treasurers listed below are those that have been appointed or elected since the office became a statewide office in 1784.​

2017 - Present: Dale R. Folwell, CPA

Dave R. Folwell, CPA was a four-term member of the N.C. House of Representatives, including two years as Speaker Pro Tempore. During that time, he sponsored 29 major pieces of legislation enacted with bi-partisan support.

More recently, he was Assistant Secretary of Commerce with the Division of Employment Security, where he took the most “broke and broken” unemployment system in the United States and turned it into a national leader in debt-repayment, quality and customer service.

He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Masters in Accounting. Married for 28 years with three children, he lives in Winston-Salem.


2009 - 2017: Janet Cowell

Photo of Janet Cowell

Janet Cowell (born 1968) is the state's 27th elected Treasurer and the first woman to win the post.  The daughter of a Methodist minister and public school teacher, Cowell grew up in the Southeast until attending college at the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with Honors.  Cowell also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of Business, as well as a Master's degree in International Studies from the Lauder Institute.

Cowell worked as a financial analyst with organizations including HSBC Bank and Lehman Brothers in New York and international offices before making her home in North Carolina in 1997.  She was elected to Raleigh City Council in 2001 and the North Carolina State Senate in 2004.  During this time, she earned two Legislator of the Year awards including Environmental Legislator of the Year as a Senator.  In 2008, Cowell was elected North Carolina Treasurer.

Under her leadership, North Carolina maintained a AAA bond rating throughout her first term. Cowell was re-elected Treasurer in 2012.

2001 - 2009: Richard Moore

Richard H. Moore (born 1960) grew up in a politically active family in Oxford. He served three years as a federal prosecutor in North Carolina’s Eastern District, one term in the state House of Representatives and four years as secretary of crime control and public safety under Gov. Jim Hunt. After considering a run for lieutenant governor, he was elected Treasurer in 2000 and again in 2004. 

In 2008, he sought the Democratic nomination for governor, but lost to then-Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue. He was appointed to the executive board of the New York Stock Exchange as the only public sector member, and has served on the board of NYSE Regulation since its inception in 2005. Moore earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University, and a graduate diploma in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics. After leaving office, Moore was named to the Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University. (News & Observer)

Photo of Richard Moore

1977 - 2001: Harlan E. Boyles

Photo of Harlan Boyles

Harlan E. Boyles (1929 –2003) grew up in Lincoln County, where his father farmed and owned a country store. He attended the University of Georgia before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned an accounting degree in 1951. Boyles began working for the state in the Department of Revenue and later for the Tax Study Commission. For 16 years, he was Deputy State Treasurer for Treasurer Edwin M. Gill. When Gill retired, Boyles ran for the office in the 1976 election and won. He was re-elected in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996, for a total of 24 years in office.

Throughout Boyles' tenure as State Treasurer, North Carolina maintained its AAA rating, saving the state millions of dollars. In addition, 25 percent of all local governments receiving AAA ratings were located in North Carolina when he retired in 2001. Among his many honors, Boyles was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine and was presented with Distinguished Service Awards from both the N.C. Citizens for Business & Industry and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. Boyles passed away on January 23, 2003, at his home in Raleigh after a battle with cancer. The General Assembly unanimously passed a special resolution memorializing Boyles upon his death.


Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, William S. Powell, University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Keeper of the Public Purse, Harlan E. Boyles, Appalachian State University, 1994.

Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century, Edward McGrady and Samuel A. Ashe, Madison, Wis., Brant & Fuller, 1892.