- Mark Cross
- Jason Norton
- Chris Caldwell
- Amy Parrish
- Tomekia Jackson
- April Giddeons
- Ben Butler
- Miranda Lee
Mark Cross, AIF,®
Founding Partner, Highland Trust Partners
Mark is an independent financial advisor and Accredited Investment Fiduciary,® (AIF,®). He focuses primarily on retirement, estate, and investment planning. Mark takes great care in helping clients develop a plan tailored to their needs by simplifying the process, allowing them to make well-founded, intelligent, and confident financial decisions.
Mark received a BS in economics with a concentration in finance from the University of Georgia. He began his financial services career in 1986 and brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry to individuals, families, and business owners seeking customized strategies as they prepare for or live in retirement.
Before establishing Highland Trust Partners, an independent financial planning and wealth management firm in 2015, he managed a successful financial services practice at Wells Fargo Advisors for two decades and was a member of the Wells Fargo Advisors Premier Advisor Program which is based on performance and production criteria, and reflects a superior level of professional achievement.* Mark joined Wachovia Securities, the Wells Fargo Advisors predecessor firm in 1993. Previously, Mark was a financial advisor and branch administrative officer with a regional investment company in Atlanta.
Mark is a sought-after speaker on a broad range of financial topics, including personal investment planning, and he’s had articles published in the Athens Banner-Herald. Mark serves on the Advisory Board of Integrated Financial Group, which is listed as one of the Top 25 Financial Planning Firms in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2015 (based on assets under management). He’s a past member of the finance committee at Athens First Methodist Church and the Parent’s Advisory Committee for Prince Avenue Christian School. He also teaches Partners Sunday School class and previously served as president. Mark also serves as President of the Board of Trustees for Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of Georgia. He served on the Advisory Board of the UGA College of Family Financial Planning & Gardner Webb University College of Financial Planning. He is a former member of the University Greek Housing Steering Committee and the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA).
Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, Frances, and their seven children as well as attending college athletics, playing an occasional round of golf, and hunting with his friends.
*The Premier Advisor distinction is held by a select group of Financial Advisors who meet or exceed Wells Fargo Advisors’ high standards as measured by one or more of the firm’s criteria for revenue generation, educational attainment, and client-service best practices.
Jason Norton, CFP®, ChSNC®
Founding Partner, Highland Trust Partners
Jason is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and a founding partner of Highland Trust Partners. He began his financial services career while still in college. A consumer economics major from Alpharetta, Georgia, Jason transferred from the University of West Georgia to UGA. Through an internship, he obtained a position with the Wells Fargo Advisors predecessor firm, Wachovia Securities. While the position began with some simple administrative responsibilities, things quickly changed.
Following his graduation from Georgia, Jason had the option to join his family’s cryogenics business. However, a position had been created for Jason on Mark Cross’ team, and he accepted. He was named a financial specialist and placed on the junior broker track. Following the completion of his Series 7 securities representative examination and the junior broker program, Jason obtained his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.
In addition to his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, Jason has recently finished the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® designation. Christy and Jason’s son Drew who is a fun, loving, opinionated and mess-making little boy is a fighter of a rare disease. This has led Jason and Christy to be advocates in all aspects of Drew’s life. If you ask Jason why he chose to help others in the special needs community, “sometimes your job finds you”.
Jason is actively involved in the Athens community as past president of Rotary (2009-2010) and former president of L.E.A.D. Athens. He regularly returns to UGA to speak to undergraduate classes in consumer economics about investing and financial planning.
Jason and his wife, Christy, were married in 2008 and are the proud parents of their son, Drew, born in 2010.
*Securities registration held with LPL Financial.
Chris Caldwell, CFP,® CRC,® AIF,® MBA
Founding Partner, Highland Trust Partners
Director of Retirement Planning
Chris is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, Certified Retirement Counselor®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, and a founding partner of Highland Trust Partners. His primary focus is on corporate retirement plans and retirement, financial, and estate planning for families. Chris seeks to help families reduce financial stress by organizing their finances and developing strategies aligned with their goals and values. He helps businesses design retirement plans that are noticed and appreciated by employees with the goal of helping workers retire on time with the assets they require for retirement.
Based on experience, Chris knows that financial independence is the number one goal most people have for their lives in retirement. His clients rely on him to help them identify and overcome challenges along the path to retirement, anticipating and seeking to avoid obstacles that could come between them and their goals.
Chris received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. He began his financial services career in 1996 and has experience in trusts, investments, insurance, and banking. Chris has concentrated his efforts over the years on enhancing his financial knowledge to assist clients by earning three accredited professional designations, which combined require more than 30 hours of continuing education each year.
Before joining Mark and Jason to establish Highland Trust Partners, Chris was Vice President of Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Chris was one of only 300 advisors at the firm to be recognized in the Wells Fargo Advisors Retirement Plan Consultants Program, a program open to select advisors specializing in corporate retirement plans. Prior to Wells Fargo Advisors, Chris worked with Wachovia Securities, SunTrust Trust & Investments, and ING.
Chris has been a contributing writer to the Athens Banner Herald newspaper and Southern Distinction magazine. He is an adjunct professor at Piedmont College, teaching several business courses and occasionally lectures to classes at the University of Georgia. He serves as a board member for St. Mary’s Hospital, Highland Hills Retirement Village, Athens Rotary Club Foundation, and the Piedmont College Advisory Board. He is listed as a preferred financial planner by the Dave Ramsey Program and facilitates the Financial Peace workshop to churches and civic organizations.
Chris and his wife, Heather, were married in 1999 and have two children, Seth and Natalie.
Director of Operations
Tomekia joined Mark, Jason, and Chris when they formed Highland Trust Partners in 2015. As Director of Operations, her primary focus is management of the firm’s day-to-day operations. She is the key contact for clients, serving client accounts and responding to inquiries, and is responsible for managing partners’ calendars, budgeting office expenses, organizing seminars, and developing marketing strategies. Tomekia is also the team’s website administrator and manages the firm’s interns and receptionist.
Tomekia joined Wachovia Securities (which later became Wells Fargo Advisors) in 2005 as Client Associate for Mark and Jason. Many of the duties she performs today, she performed while with Wells Fargo Advisors. Tomekia was recognized on many occasions for her diligent work ethic in assisting clients, training fellow Client Associates, and supporting other advisors when needed.
Tomekia has extensive experience in banking. Before joining Mark and Jason, she worked for First American Bank, Wachovia Bank, and Athens First Bank. She has held multiple positions including teller, customer service manager, and assistant branch manager. Tomekia’s knowledge of banking transactions is an asset to clients of Highland Trust Partners as well as to Mark, Jason, Chris and Amy.
Tomekia and her husband, Anthony, are “born and raised” Athenians. They have a daughter, Megan. Tomekia has been involved with numerous charities over the years, with a particular focus on March of Dimes.
Amy Parrish, AWMA,®
Senior Financial Advisor, Highland Trust Partners
Amy has worked as a trusted advisor to families and businesses since 1992. Amy holds the Accredited Wealth Management Advisor designation from the College for Financial Planning. She develops close personal relationships with her clients allowing her to understand and address their unique needs. It is her goal to help them be more purposeful with their wealth. Specifically, Amy specializes in financial planning, estate planning, planning for transitions, strategic wealth distribution, charitable giving strategies, asset allocation, and the evaluation of investment managers.
Amy received a degree in political science with a concentration in global policy studies from the University of Georgia. Amy enjoys spending time with her husband, Bob, and children, Lindsey and Brooks. As a family, they are actively involved in their church, Athens First United Methodist. Amy has been and continues to be active in helping her community. She is a past president for the Junior League of Athens, Athens Area Cancer Auxiliary, L.E.A.D. Athens Steering Committee, and Prevent Child Abuse Athens. She is a graduate of Leadership Athens and had a past appointment to serve on the Child Protective Services Statewide Citizen’s Review Panel. Amy was appointed to the Oconee County Schools Board of Education in July 2016. She served as chair of the Economic Education Committee for the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Rotary Club of Oconee County and Kiwanis of Social Circle. Amy has completed several marathons and distance relay races. She enjoys socializing with friends and family through these types of events, local 5k races for charity, and during training.
Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional, FPQP™
April joined Mark, Jason, and Chris when they formed Highland Trust Partners in 2015. As Client Service Associate, April works directly with Tomekia to address the needs of all the firm’s clients, which include but not limited to opening accounts, distribution of funds, and scheduling meetings. April is also responsible for helping clients understand the firm’s technology and addressing problems with account access.
April joined Highland Trust Partners after 3 years as Office Manager of another LPL office in Athens which was acquired by Highland Trust Partners. Prior, she worked for 4 years as an associate with a local Edward Jones Office. April's knowledge of the industry and client relations is a tremendous asset to Mark, Jason, Chris, Amy, Tomekia, and the firm's clients.
April is a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional™ and is instrumental in developing financial plans for clients.
April and her husband, Michael, were married in 1992 and have two sons, Joshua, and Daniel. They have three children if you count their miniature Schnauzer, Scooter.
Trade and Portfolio Operations Manager
Ben is a fourth-year student at the University of Georgia. He is currently pursuing his BBA in Finance and his MS in Financial Planning. Ben began his work in the financial services industry in 2014 under the Cross/Norton wealth management group at Wells Fargo Advisors. It was there he learned the basics of office management, client communication, and had his first experience with portfolio reporting and analysis. Ben followed the group to Highland Trust Partners in 2015 and has been with them since. He started as a model analyst where he mastered model reporting software and used these programs to update the firm’s partners on model performance and client portfolios. From there he began his current work as trading associate, processing the firm’s trades and handling annual client portfolio rebalances.
Ben is a lifelong Athens native, and is engaged to be married in May of 2019. Outside of work, he is actively involved with his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he currently serves as President after having filled the role of Vice President of Communications in 2017. Ben is an avid follower of UGA Athletics and takes any chance he can get to see the Dawgs in action “Between the Hedges” or on the road.
Financial Planning Assistant
Miranda joined Highland Trust Partners in April of 2018. As an intern at HTP, Miranda’s duties include, but are not limited to, preparing reports to be used in client meetings, entering and updating client information, generating quarterly 401(k) reports, and assisting the team to complete various office tasks and projects.
Miranda is a senior majoring in Financial Planning at the University of Georgia. Throughout her time at UGA, Miranda has participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where she was given the opportunity to prepare tax returns for individuals across the state of Georgia, and she is also a member of the Student Financial Planning Association.
Miranda is from Elberton, Georgia, where she enjoys time with her family and going to the lake. Miranda loves Georgia football and spending time with her boyfriend, Boston, and their dog, Herschel.