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,®
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.
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 and lending is an asset to clients of Highland Trust Partners as well as to Mark, Jason, and Chris.
Tomekia and her husband, Anthony, have been together since 2004 and have a daughter, Megan, who was born in 2007. Tomekia has been involved with numerous charities over the years, with a particular focus on March of Dimes.
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 serves 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. 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.
Registered Paraplanner, RP®
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 and her husband, Michael, were married in 1992 and have two sons, Joshua and Daniel. They actually have three children if you count their miniature Schnauzer, Scooter.
Financial Planning Assistant
Kelsey joined Highland Trust Partners in January of 2017 after graduating from the Financial Planning program at the University of Georgia. As a financial planning associate at HTP, Kelsey works with the team to ensure client information is complete and current, assists the team in analyzing strengths and weaknesses of client plans, and prepares reports for the team to utilize in client meetings. Kelsey is currently pursuing her Certified Financial Planner Certification which she will sit for later this year
While attending the University of Georgia, Kelsey was involved in many activities on campus. Kelsey took part in the Student Financial Planning Association, managed the men’s tennis team, worked in the business department of the UGA Athletic Association, and was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. While she loved being involved on campus, school was Kelsey’s priority. She enjoyed the amazing professors and academic opportunities that were available to her through the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Kelsey is from Naples, Florida but she loves her new home here in Athens. She enjoys sailing and swimming in the ocean while visiting her parents in Naples. Kelsey loves Georgia football and exploring Athens with her friends and her puppy Ellie.