Harris County School District's Retirement Offerings Named Best in the Nation

HAMILTON, GA (NOVEMBER 17, 2021) – The trophy is in hand, and it is official…the Harris County School District (HCSD) retirement offerings have been named the best in the nation.

 The HCSD 403(b) plan has been chosen as the winner in the category of “Public Defined Contribution” for the Plan Sponsor Award, which is implemented by the industry’s PLANSPONSOR magazine. The other finalist in this category was a state university retirement system.

“Our staff is dedicated to student support. In turn, we honor our staff by providing resources for them to live free of debt and retire successfully,“ shared Stacey Carlisle, HCSD assistant superintendent of human resources. “Over the years, the Harris County School District has provided a high-quality benefits package. This recognition validates and celebrates our commitment to improving financial wellness for HCSD employees. And, kudos go to Renee Lipp, our benefits coordinator, for her years of hard work coordinating the HCSD 403(b) plan, and to Superintendent Roger Couch for advocating for the best investment plan possible for our employees.”

Renee Lipp winner

 Lipp shared, "In my many years of working with benefit plans, I really think what sets this plan apart is that it’s not just a paycheck deduction. While our participants are charged with teaching students...we turn our teachers back into students and teach them how best to prepare for their financial future. Our wonderful faculty and staff focus their careers on giving their best to our future generations and to the district. When they enter the retirement chapter of their careers, we want them to be able to play as hard as they’ve worked. Partnering with some of the best companies in the industry has helped us build a great retirement plan for our employees – those partners are highly vetted to ensure the best match for our district.”

Lipp added, “We are grateful for the guidance and leadership of our benefits consultant Dale Alexander, president of Alexander & Company. He was our first point of contact, and he recommended a team of experts to re-align our benefit offerings and quickly launch our current program.  This new team assisted with HCSD implementing several new programs and processes and included Hartmann Astor-Investment Consulting, Lincoln Financial Group, Merit Financial Advisors, Mentoro, and TSA Consulting Group.

 Group photo winner plansponsor

When asked about this recognition, Alexander commented, "The commitment to their employees' financial- and therefore personal- lives is encouraging...not only to me, but other school districts that will see this recognition for Harris County Schools. Our company is so honored to play a part in their success."

The annual “Plan Sponsor of the Year” awards program recognizes retirement plan sponsors that show a commitment to their participants’ financial health and retirement success. During the last quarter of the year, PLANSPONSOR magazine opens nominations for the awards. An organization must first receive a nomination and then submit details about the plan such as administration, participant statistics, and data.

trophy plansponsor

There are a range of categories so any plan sponsor can be eligible. The number of finalists selected depends on the number of entries in each category, which are judged both against other nominations in the category and on a sense of best practices specific to each plan sponsor’s industry.

 plansponsor winner logo

The Harris County School District is in Hamilton, Georgia.  For more information, visit www.harris.k12.ga.us or call 706-628-4206.


Note to Editors: Interviews and photographs are available upon request.


  • Trophy
  • Group Photo: Left to Right: Stacey Carslisle, HCSD, assistant superintendent of human resources; Roger Couch, HCSD, superintendent; Renee Lipp, HCSD, benefits coordinator; Brian Curran, Lincoln Financial Group, relationship manager; Eric Hansen, Hartmann Astor-Investment Consulting, consultant; Kelly Kurek, Mentoro, vp of plan management; Whitney Queen, Mentoro, president; Danny Kofke, Mentoro, motivational mentor; Scott Meyer, Merit Financial Advisors, partner
  • PlanSponsor image announcing winner
  • PlanSponsor Logo

About the Harris County School District
Georgia’s Harris County School District is an accredited K-12 school system based in the county seat of Hamilton, Georgia. It serves 5,500+ students with four elementary schools, one intermediate school, one middle school, one high school, and one performance learning center. With a vision of “one community committed to educational excellence for every child,” Harris County School District continually strives to provide students what they need to become the future workforce and society. For more information, visit www.harris.k12.ga.us or the Facebook or Twitter pages (@HCSDga).

Comments from Partners:

“I am thrilled to see the efforts of the benefits team and leadership at Harris County Schools recognized for their vision and persistence in doing what’s in the best interest of their employees, but more enthusiastic to see the impact that these changes will have on the community’s financial health over the long-term.” 
Eric Hansen, CIMA, AIF, C(k)P
Hartmann Astor-Investment Consulting

“We here at Lincoln Financial Group are thrilled to see the Harris County School District recognized for their exemplary hard work on improving retirement outcomes for their employees. The focus displayed by the Retirement Committee on effective plan design, investment performance and participant education provide the perfect blueprint for any school district looking to make an impact on the financial future of their employees. We are humbled to be a part of this amazing journey and look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Harris County Schools and their retirement partners.”
Brian Curran, Relationship Manager
Lincoln Financial Group

“Harris County is not just a school district, they are a family. Their culture where everyone helps each other, along with the dedication of the plan committee is what this award publicly recognizes.”
Scott Meyer, Wealth Manager, Partner
Merit Financial Advisors 

“They may be tigers on the field, but they are pioneers in this space. With trust, creativity and lots of hard work, the Harris County School District has set a new standard in providing opportunities for educators to flourish both in and out of the classroom. The impact they are making is as impressive as winning this award. We are proud and honored to be their partner in financial education.“
Whitney Queen, President

“I cannot think of a more well-deserved recipient for this award than HCSD. TSA Consulting Group is the largest 403(b)/457(b) third party administrator in the country with a client base of over 4,000 plans spanning 47 states, and HCSD is one of those valued clients. Searching through that long list of clients, HCSD stands out as a plan sponsor whose administration is genuinely focused and dedicated to both the current and future wellbeing of their employees.”
Justin Rollins, Senior Plan Consultant 
TSA Consulting Group