Meet some of the women executives who are leading the Texas Association of Counties into the future and developing excellence in Texas county government. TAC boasts a workforce that is 64% women, and three of four officers on its board of directors are currently women. Here, they offer reflections on leadership and give advice to aspiring leaders in county government.
Hon. Renee Couch, Comal County Treasurer and TAC Board President
Renee L. Couch was appointed Comal County Treasurer in 2007 and was elected in 2008 where she has served for the past thirteen years. She achieved her certification as a County Investment Officer in 2008 and is the Investment Officer for Comal County. Couch is currently the President of the Texas Association of Counties and serves on the County Investment Academy Advisory Committee for TAC. She is an alumni of TAC's Leadership program and serves on the Core Legislative Committee.
Couch served as President for the County Treasurer's Association of Texas in 2015-2016 and was awarded the Texas Outstanding County Treasurer of Texas in 2017. Couch received presidential appointments to National Association of Counties' Broadband Task Force and the Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee. She was also nominated and accepted to NACo’s Class of 2020 County Leadership Institute and completed their High-Performance Leadership Academy.
Susan M. Redford, Executive Director, TAC
Susan M. Redford is Executive Director of the Texas Association of Counties. She is only the second woman to lead TAC in its half-century of operation. Prior to joining TAC, Redford blazed a trail as a county judge, an elected position overwhelmingly held by men in Texas. Redford served as Ector County judge, 2007-2015. She was only the second woman (and the second youngest person) elected to that office in Ector County.
Prior to her election, she was an assistant district attorney in the Ector County District Attorney’s Office. Judge Redford began practicing law in Odessa in 1997, working in the private sector handling criminal, family, employment and probate matters. She is a graduate of Texas Tech School of Law and a Certified Public Manager.
Hon. Cindy Yeatts Brown, Denton County Treasurer and TAC Board Secretary
Cindy Yeatts Brown was elected to her first four-year term as Denton County Treasurer in 1998 and is currently in her sixth consecutive term. She administers the county payroll for over 1,800 employees and manages an investment portfolio of more than $500 million. Brown has more than 35 years of governmental payroll and treasury cash management experience. She served as president of the County Treasurers’ Association of Texas, 2009-2010, and continues to serve in leadership roles. Brown has served on the TAC Board of Directors since 2016. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration in Finance from Texas Woman’s University. Brown began her career of public service at the age of 17, and she says public service has been her professional “true north” ever since.
Hon. Kim Halfmann, Glasscock County Judge and TAC Board President-Elect
Kim Halfmann has been the Glasscock County Judge since April 1, 2010. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Halfmann taught elementary school, served as program director for a geriatric-psychiatric unit and worked for the government of New Zealand performing free-lance marketing and public relations functions to promote the Boer goat in the United States. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Angelo State University.
Along with her duties as judge, she is a current or past Board member for the following organizations: West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association, 118th District Juvenile Board, Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission, Glasscock County ISD Education Committee, Glasscock County Leadership Advisory Board, Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and Texas Association of Counties.
Judge Halfmann has lifelong roots in the ag industry. She comes from a ranching background and has been involved on her family’s farming/ranching operation for the past 36 years.
Lisa Garcia, Membership & Strategic Services Director
Lisa Garcia is the Membership & Strategic Services Director at the Texas Association of Counties and just celebrated her 20-year anniversary. One of her greatest achievements at TAC stems from working in several departments over the years and gaining a better understanding of how TAC operates as an entire enterprise. Early in her career, she feared becoming idle, so she made it a point to stay open to new challenges and ways of thinking. She learned to view the organization from a global and strategic perspective and consequently, she’s had the opportunity to shape policies and make process improvements that propelled TAC forward.
Garcia holds a masters of business administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems (MIS) and a bachelor’s of business administration from St. Edward’s University. She completed college while working full-time at TAC and being a single mother of two. She said it was important to her, as a young Hispanic mother, to not become another disadvantaged statistic but to be a guiding example that anyone can achieve anything if they set their mind to it.
Jenny Gilchrist, Human Resources Director
Jenny Gilchrist is the Director of Human Resources at the Texas Association of Counties. She previously served as an associate general counsel with TAC on two occasions and most recently rejoined TAC in 2010, after working eight years with the City of Austin Law Department, both as an assistant city attorney and as division chief for the Municipal Operations Division. She has also worked at the state Attorney General’s Office as a team leader in the General Counsel Division and with Gov. Ann Richards’ Policy Council and Ombudsman’s Office. Gilchrist was in private practice before she specialized in public sector law.
Gilchrist says building the HR function at TAC has been a rewarding challenge because it takes her commitment to service to another level – one that is personal to each employee at TAC.
Ganae Hempe, Finance Services Director
Ganae Hempe is the Director of Finance Services at the Texas Association of Counties. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988 with a bachelor’s of business administration in Accounting, Hempe joined the Hilton Hotel franchise. After 10 years with Hilton, she spent the next decade as an accountant with Georgetown Healthcare System and Foundation. Hempe joined Texas Association of Counties (TAC) in 2011 as senior accountant. While at TAC she obtained her CPA license and became the Director of Finance Services in 2020. Hempe and her husband Eddie were also co-owners of the iconic Austin Players Hamburgers for 29 years. They have two grown children, Nikki and “Little” Ed.