Google+ Our People | Acuff & Associates | Retirement Plannning

Our People

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PRINCIPALS

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The founder, Principal, and Chairman of Acuff & Associates, Lucian Acuff has been a prominent fixture in the national retirement plan consulting industry for more than 40 years. As a founder of one of Tennessee’s first benefits consulting firms and as a managing director of the world’s largest benefits consulting firm, Lucian brings experience in consulting, actuarial services, management,
and technology.
      Lucian graduated from David Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. He completed his
graduate studies in actuarial science at Georgia State University.
      Lucian is a Past President and former Board Member of the National Institute of Pension Administrators. He also served on the Board of Managers of the American Institute of Retirement Education, LLC.
      An avid golfer, Lucian is also a baseball aficionado who has visited all of the major league ballparks and many of the minor league stadiums. He and his wife, Emily, also enjoy their two daughters and their six grandchildren (including the triplets) and spending time at their Florida condo. Lucian is also a big fan of the Big Orange.

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Trina Gross, a seasoned retirement professional, assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Acuff & Associates, on January 1, 2013. She succeeded Lucian Acuff, who became Chairman at that time. She is a founder and Principal with the firm since its inception and thoroughly enjoys the retirement industry.
      Trina is responsible for the executive oversight of Acuff’s 40+ professionals and 1,100+ qualified retirement plans. With over 30 years of experience in the retirement and consulting field, she has a vast knowledge of plan design, consulting with employers on all aspects of their plans, and complex administration. She holds the Qualified 401(k)
      Administrator (QKA) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries
and the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
      Trina is a Tennessee native, received her B.B.A. from Middle Tennessee State University, and has spent many years living in the Nashville area. In her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, entertaining with her husband, Robert, daughters and friends, and is an avid fan of the Tennessee Vols. She is especially passionate about the Lady Vols Basketball program and gets to Knoxville as often as possible to attend the games. She also enjoys redecorating and has a perpetual home improvement project.

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As a founder and Principal of Acuff & Associates, David Kays is an actuary with nearly 40 years of consulting experience in the employee benefits area. He has extensive experience working will all types of employers, from individuals to governments to large corporations, as well as with multi-employer plans and expert witness services.
      David received a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Western Michigan University.
He is a member of both the American Academy of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries, and is an Enrolled Actuary.
      Not only a talented actuary, David is also a very diverse and well-read person who plays clarinet in the Williamson County Community Band and has travelled throughout the world. He and his wife, Bonnie, enjoy traveling to North Carolina and Chicago to visit their children and grandchildren.

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With more than 30 years of experience in data technology and retirement plans, Keith Stewart is responsible for the management of the company’s technology. With expertise in the areas of systems development, retirement plan administration, and recordkeeping, he has developed customized software for the client’s use in administration of 40l(k) plans. Keith is also one of the founders and shareholders of Acuff & Associates.
        Prior to the founding of
Acuff & Associates, Keith served as Coordinator of Technology for a national consulting firm. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in music business from Belmont University. In his spare time, when he is not otherwise working with personal computers, Keith enjoys camping, boating and scuba diving. A native Tennessean, Keith and his wife Carol enjoy living near the lake in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where they raised their two sons and daughter.

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Steve Jones is a Relationship Manager who brings creative solutions to the most complicated of retirement plans. He believes that the key to a successful plan is to properly manage it from top to bottom; making sure the plan first fits the needs of the employer, and then staying on top of the details.
      With 36 years of experience in the qualified plans industry, Steve has lived through numerous changes in the retirement industry and, in the process, dealt with virtually every type of problem imaginable. That is why the firm relies upon him as its internal “answer-man.”
      Steve is a Principal of Acuff & Associates, having joined the firm in 1995 a few years after it formed. As an Enrolled Retirement Plans Agent (ERPA), he is licensed to practice before the IRS, and he is a member of two industry trade groups,
the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries and the National Institute of Pension Administrators, from which he holds the Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA) and Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designations, respectively. Steve graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a B.S. in mathematics in 1976 and immediately went to work for Mr. Acuff at a well-known national consulting firm.
      Steve and his wife, Emily, are Nashville natives with four grown children between them and one grandchild. As empty nesters, they enjoy an urban lifestyle in a downtown Nashville condo, spending evenings walking and enjoying fine dining, music, art, plays, and their favorite sport, hockey. In their spare time, they are fixing up a remote country retreat, so they can enjoy the best of both the city and country.

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Mike Wesson leads the marketing and business development efforts for Acuff & Associates. Mike has almost 30 years’ experience in the design, communication, marketing, and administration of qualified retirement plans. He has become a prominent and trusted resource in the retirement plan and financial advisor community and is a Principal and shareholder of Acuff & Associates.
      Mike holds a B. S. from Middle Tennessee State University and an M.B.A. from Plymouth State University. He has earned the Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), Qualified 40l(k) Administrator (QKA), and Tax-Exempt and Government
Plan Consultant (TGPC) designations from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries; the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators; and the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
      Mike and his wife, Linda, have been married for over 25 years and they have two sons, Jack and Will. He serves on the vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tennessee and was the 2013 president of the Episcopal Churchmen of Tennessee. Mike “enjoys” playing golf and also enjoys hiking and American history.

BIRGIT CORNELIUS
Birgit Cornelius is a Principal and leads the areas of Conversions, Peer Review and Plan Documents at Acuff & Associates, Inc. She has over 20 years of broad ERISA experience providing retirement plan consulting services to employers in a variety of industries for qualified and non-qualified plans.
   Birgit received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Sullivan University in Louisville, KY, and a Master of Science degree in Management from Regis University in Denver, CO.
   Birgit holds the designations of Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), Qualified 401 (k) Administrator (QKA), Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA) and Tax-Exempt & Governmental Plan Consultant (TGPC) from the American Society of Pension
Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). She is also an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA), which means she has demonstrated special competence in specific tax matters and earned the privilege of practicing (i.e. representing clients with retirement plans) before the Internal Revenue Service.
   Birgit is a native of Germany and resides with her husband Jeff in Nashville. They have lived in several states during and after Jeff’s active duty Army service. They are empty nesters with one daughter living in Colorado and the other attending college out of state. In her spare time, Birgit visits patients at Vanderbilt with her therapy dog Lily, a West Highland Terrier. She enjoys the Nashville restaurant scene and exploring what Nashville is all about.

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Terry began with Acuff & Associates in 1999. He has been in the Retirement Plan Industry for over 40 years. Previously, he was a partner with another Memphis firm and was well-known in the region as an Internal Revenue Agent with the IRS for 10 years.
      As a veteran of the retirement plan industry, Terry enjoys coordinating efforts with other professionals as they consult with employers in the small to mid-size marketplace about their plan needs. He works with these advisors in the special areas of designing and maintaining quality retirement plans, as well as assisting with companies consisting of multiple ownerships. His primary motivation is to enhance the value of retirement savings and employee benefits within their companies.
      Terry, a native Memphian, graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Accounting. He is currently an Enrolled Agent with the IRS and is an APM and member of American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). With ASPPA, he serves on several national advisory committees.
     Terry is a very active member of the Rotary Club of Memphis East. He is also a volunteer and Assistant Chairman for the Shot Link Committee during the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic PGA Golf Tournament in Memphis and is also an accomplished amateur golfer himself. He and his wife, Pam, enjoy time with their children and grandchildren and being involved with their church.

MANAGING ASSOCIATES

JENNIFER DUFF
A Managing Associate with more than 17 years of experience in retirement plan administration, Jennifer Duff has been with Acuff & Associates since 2002. Her experience ranges from working with a national firm in the defined benefit area to managing a team of plan analysts providing all administrative services for Acuff. Her capabilities in focusing her team on excellent client service are surpassed by none.
   Jennifer enjoys a challenge and seeing just how productive her team can be. She manages completion of over 700 client projects each year and is always energetic in her efforts.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus in Finance from the University of Memphis, and she has earned her Accredited Pension Administrator designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
   A native of middle Tennessee, Jennifer and her husband Jason, are passionate University of Memphis fans. They have two daughters, Hayden and Mary, and are actively involved in softball and all the activities their girls enjoy.

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Becky is a Relationship Manager who communicates with clients on a day-to-day basis. She works with over 200 clients on the annual administration of their plans. She believes in making complicated retirement plan-related tasks as simple and easy as possible for her clients and she helps them communicate with their participants and their service providers.
      Becky has over 20 years of experience in third party administration. Upon graduating from Pensacola Christian College with a Bachelor of Science degree
in education, she began working as a retirement plan professional.
     Since joining Acuff & Associates, she has earned her Accredited Pension Administrator designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
      Her interests include watching her daughter ride her horses in barrel racing and rodeo events. She is very active in her church, enjoys coaching volleyball, and is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan.

John Rath brings more than 30 years of consulting experience to Acuff and Associates including 20 years as the President of his own actuarial consulting firm. His diverse experience includes pension plan and OPEB plan consulting for private sector single employer plans, Taft-Hartley multi-employer plans and public sector plans. In addition, John provides expert testimony and has spoken before a Michigan State Senate Committee on the funding of Public Sector pension and OPEB plans.
      John attended Hillsdale College and is a cum laude graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics – Statistics. He is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries and is an Enrolled Actuary.
      In his spare time, he enjoys glass blowing, beekeeping and outdoor photography. He and wife, Sue, have raised two daughters both of whom have started careers in higher education.

Pamela-Leitschuh
A Managing Associate with more than 20 years of experience in retirement plan administration, Pamela has been with Acuff & Associates since 2001. As a native from West Tennessee, Pamela began her Acuff career in the Memphis office as a Plan Analyst after working with a major financial institution in the Memphis area. In 2008, Pamela relocated to the middle Tennessee area and began her new duties in the Acuff accounting department. Along with her responsibilities as Controller of
the firm, Pamela manages the client services and administrative staff.
      Pamela has a Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of Mississippi and has earned her Accredited Pension Administrator designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators. She and her daughter, Joslyn, enjoy the outdoors and visiting with family and friends.

RELATIONSHIP MANAGERS

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Becky is a Relationship Manager who communicates with clients on a day-to-day basis. She works with over 200 clients on the annual administration of their plans. She believes in making complicated retirement plan-related tasks as simple and easy as possible for her clients and she helps them communicate with their participants and their service providers.
      Becky has over 20 years of experience in third party administration. Upon graduating from Pensacola Christian College with a Bachelor of Science degree
in education, she began working as a retirement plan professional.
      Since joining Acuff & Associates, she has earned her Accredited Pension Administrator designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
      Her interests include watching her daughter ride her horses in barrel racing and rodeo events. She is very active in her church, enjoys coaching volleyball, and is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan.

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Linda Green is a Relationship Manager who has a passion for retirement benefits. She believes that clients and their employees are best served by delivering timely services that are tailored to the client’s needs while maintaining compliance in all aspects of plan administration.
      Linda brings to her clients more than 30 years of qualified plan experience in addition to her own experience as a plan sponsor. She graduated from the University of Dallas with a B.S. in Mathematics. Her career in retirement planning began in consulting. After 15 years, she joined the ranks of plan sponsors herself.
Linda joined the ranks of plan sponsor. She worked for several Fortune 100 companies in Texas and Tennessee. She is a both a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist and Fellow of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.
      Linda is a recent transplant to the Nashville area and is looking forward to getting to know the Music City better. She is an adoring aunt and is learning to appreciate many new sports as her nephews learn to play them. She is active in her church and enjoys storytelling through scrapbooks.

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Ken specializes in educating our clients about their retirement plans. He helps them navigate the myriad of rules and regulations, and also works to find the best retirement plan solutions, both from a plan design and an administrative perspective. A 30-year veteran of the retirement plan industry, Ken received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Wesleyan College and an M.B.A. from Middle Tennessee State University. He has earned the Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, and the
Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators. Before joining Acuff & Associates, Ken was an administrator with law firms preparing retirement plan documents, and an administrator and account manager with a major benefits consulting firm.
      Ken was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He moved to Virginia in the mid-1970s and then to Tennessee with his wife and daughter in 1987. His interests include current events and American history.

John Rath brings more than 30 years of consulting experience to Acuff and Associates including 20 years as the President of his own actuarial consulting firm. His diverse experience includes pension plan and OPEB plan consulting for private sector single employer plans, Taft-Hartley multi-employer plans and public sector plans. In addition, John provides expert testimony and has spoken before a Michigan State Senate Committee on the funding of Public Sector pension and OPEB plans.
      John attended Hillsdale College and is a cum laude graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics – Statistics. He is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries and is an Enrolled Actuary.
      In his spare time, he enjoys glass blowing, beekeeping and outdoor photography. He and wife, Sue, have raised two daughters both of whom have started careers in higher education.

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A Senior Associate with more than 25 years of experience in retirement plan administration and consulting, John Russell has been with Acuff & Associates since 2001. While specializing in defined contribution plans, John’s experience has included work on defined benefit plans as well.
      John enjoys helping clients navigate through the somewhat confusing world of retirement plans. He believes in working
together with clients and their service providers to provide the best retirement planning for their employees.
      Originally from Memphis and currently living in Knoxville, John and his wife Judy like traveling with their two daughters and attending a vast array of sporting events, especially baseball. He is very active in his church, where he has served in a variety of roles.

Teresa Carroll
Teresa is a Relationship Manager who has over 20 years of experience in retirement plan administration and compliance. Before joining Acuff, Teresa was a client service manager and legal assistant for benefit consulting firms. She enjoys working closely with clients to provide excellent service for their companies’ retirement needs.
      Teresa holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Paralegal Certificate from the University of Memphis.
She is a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist and holds the Accredited Pension Administration designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
      A native Memphian, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Her interests include working outdoors, participating in local running groups and attending various sporting events.

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Lisa Morris has worked in various areas of the retirement plan industry for over 25 years. Her years as an administrator, compliance specialist and client services representative enable her to provide clients with comprehensive, knowledgeable assistance in the smooth operation of their plans.
      An Illinois native, Lisa relocated to Nashville to attend Belmont University, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. She is an Enrolled Retirement Plans Agent (ERPA) which allows her to practice before the IRS on matters relating to retirement plans.
She also holds the QPA and QKA certifications from the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (“ASPPA”) and is a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS). Additionally, Lisa earned a Paralegal Certification with an emphasis in Labor & Employment Law from the American Institute of Paralegal Studies.
      Lisa and her husband Randy have a daughter, two sons and a grandson. They reside in the same valley where Randy lived as a boy, just outside Nashville. When she is not working, she enjoys cheering on her boys both on the basketball court and the baseball field.

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Mary Beth is a Relationship Manager who loves to help clients get the most out of their retirement benefits. She is a wealth of retirement knowledge and wants to get to know her plan sponsors in order to make sure their retirement plan is doing what they want it to do. She believes the retirement plan should be a great benefit to both the employer and the employees. Mary Beth is a fan of simple and sound procedures so clients can focus on their own business while ensuring plan compliance at all levels.
      Mary Beth brings to her clients more than 15 years of retirement plan experience. She graduated from Lipscomb
University with a B.A. in Mathematics. After 13 years of retirement administration and consulting, Mary Beth chose to stay closer to home focusing on her own family. She spent 7 years teaching all levels of High School mathematics before happily entering back in to the world of retirement plans in 2014. She and her husband Joe are transplants from Nebraska and Oklahoma, respectively. They have made their home in Dickson, TN with their five children. The family stays extremely busy trying to keep God first while attending their childrens’ musicals, chorus recitals, baseball, basketball, soccer, and softball.

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Ashley is highly motivated by the desire to assist Acuff & Associate’s clients for the purpose of making sure a strong network of communication is established. Once in place, this channel allows information, guidance and data to flow both ways ensuring that each client’s plan is running smoothly.
      She has more than five years experience in retirement plan administration. Her background in the industry has involved generating plan documents, compliance testing and conversion processing. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master
of Science degrees at Middle Tennessee State University. Her credentials include the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA).
      Ashley is a Nashville native and enjoys sampling the latest fare from Nashville’s up and coming restaurant scene. She loves attending concerts and sporting events–especially Tennessee football games. She keeps active by playing sand and indoor rec league volleyball year-round. She is always up for a new challenge either at work or play.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

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Mike Wesson leads the marketing and business development efforts for Acuff & Associates. Mike has almost 30 years’ experience in the design, communication, marketing, and administration of qualified retirement plans. He has become a prominent and trusted resource in the retirement plan and financial advisor community and is a Principal and shareholder of Acuff & Associates.
      Mike holds a B. S. from Middle Tennessee State University and an M.B.A. from Plymouth State University. He has earned the Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), Qualified 40l(k) Administrator (QKA), and Tax-Exempt and Government
Plan Consultant (TGPC) designations from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries; the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators; and the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
      Mike and his wife, Linda, have been married for over 25 years and they have two sons, Jack and Will. He serves on the vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tennessee and was the 2013 president of the Episcopal Churchmen of Tennessee. Mike “enjoys” playing golf and also enjoys hiking and American history.

Jonathan-Farrell
Jonathan Farrell does Marketing and Business Development for Acuff & Associates.  He has acquired more than 14 years of experience working with thousands of companies in building and customizing their retirement plans.  He joined us in 2017 after spending the prior 12 years at a major, national retirement plan provider.  He earned his BBA from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  Jonathan and his wife, Laura, have been married for 12 years.
They have three children and reside in Brentwood, TN. Much of Jonathan’s free time is spent with his three young children.  Being from Washington, DC, he is an avid Washington Nationals and Redskins fan. He also enjoys working out, playing golf, and going out with his wife to enjoy all of the nightlife that Nashville has to offer.

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Terry began with Acuff & Associates in 1999. He has been in the Retirement Plan Industry for over 40 years. Previously, he was a partner with another Memphis firm and was well-known in the region as an Internal Revenue Agent with the IRS for 10 years.
      As a veteran of the retirement plan industry, Terry enjoys coordinating efforts with other professionals as they consult with employers in the small to mid-size marketplace about their plan needs. He works with these advisors in the special areas of designing and maintaining quality retirement plans, as well as assisting with companies consisting of multiple ownerships. His primary motivation is to enhance the value of retirement savings and employee benefits within their companies.
      Terry, a native Memphian, graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Accounting. He is currently an Enrolled Agent with the IRS and is an APM and member of American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). With ASPPA, he serves on several national advisory committees.
     Terry is a very active member of the Rotary Club of Memphis East. He is also a volunteer and Assistant Chairman for the Shot Link Committee during the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic PGA Golf Tournament in Memphis and is also an accomplished amateur golfer himself. He and his wife, Pam, enjoy time with their children and grandchildren and being involved with their church.



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With more than 30 years of experience in qualified retirement plan design, consulting and administration, Doug Frey is responsible for plan design consulting and marketing in Louisiana, east Texas, and southern Arkansas. He has previously served as the Louisiana Client Service Manager for the Retirement Services Division of a large national bank and as a consultant for another regional third party administration firm.
      Doug earned a B. A. degree in Marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University and the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation from the International Foundation of Employee
Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
      Doug specializes in creating efficient plan designs that maximize benefits for target employees while holding down funding costs for the rank and file.
      Doug and his wife, Debbie, have two children – Kathleen, a history teacher who’s provided Doug and Debbie with two grandkids; and Michael, a Marine. When Doug is not marketing retirement plans, he enjoys clay shooting and other gun sports, bird hunting, and cooking (and eating) Louisiana cuisine.

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Ginger is a Senior Associate with Acuff & Associates and assists employers and financial advisors with installing their retirement plans. She has more than 25 years of industry experience and is the first face the employer will meet when becoming a client of Acuff & Associates.
      Over the last decade, Ginger has worked with a wide range of employers and advisors to help them reward their employees by accumulating more money for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis.
      A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she earned the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation from the National Institute of Pension Administrators. One of the things she is best known for is her uplifting attitude. Ginger, her husband Joel, and their son, Cash, reside in Smyrna, TN. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Ginger enjoys reading, traveling, entertaining friends, and most of all watching her husband and son play music.