Team


Meet Our Partners

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David R. Hartness CFP®, CLU®, AIF®, ChFC®

David R. Hartness CFP®, CLU®, AIF®, ChFC®

Chief Client Officer

David’s primary focus at IronGate is serving the firm’s private wealth clients. He is a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner, Chartered Life Underwriter,® and Accredited Investment Fiduciary.® Working with staff and outside professionals such as attorneys and CPA’s, David oversees the firm’s financial planning division. He is also integrally involved in the Investment and Risk Management functions in order to provide a seamless experience for clients.

Born in Mocksville, David grew up in Fayetteville and graduated from Wake Forest University. Prior to IronGate he was with First Union and American Express Financial Advisers. David serves on the Wake Forest Alumni Council and recently served on the UNCW Foundation Board. He is a past president of the New Hanover County Estate Planning Council, and has served in various other capacities with Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way. David and his wife Susie have been married over 25 years and are blessed to have three wonderful sons.

Chris Jones, CFP®, AIF®

Chris Jones, CFP®, AIF®

Chief Operating Officer

Chris oversees the day-to-day operations of IronGate, including accounting, compliance and legal. As a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner and Accredited Investment Fiduciary,® Chris oversees the risk management division of IronGate and also adds expertise in advanced estate planning and asset protection strategies for the firm’s business owners and executive clients. Chris has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Chris graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to IronGate, he worked with two regional Broker/Dealer firms and later MassMutual Financial Group. Chris is a member of the UNCW Board of Visitors, is active in the UNCW Cameron Executive Network Student Mentor Program, and currently serves on the Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC Board of Directors. Previously, he served as the President of the Wilmington Civitan Club and is a former member of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Chris and his wife Carrie have two sons.
Steve Coggins, AIF®

Steve Coggins, AIF®

Chief Investment Officer

As Chief Investment Officer, Steve is the Chairman of the firm’s Investment Committee which is responsible for developing, executing and monitoring investment strategy for clients. Steve also manages the firm’s retirement plan advisory division. An Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, Steve is a frequent speaker on financial topics, and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as well as local and national publications on financial planning and investment issues.

Steve graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was formerly a Senior Vice President with First Citizens Bank and was also with what is now Wells Fargo Advisors. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cape Fear Area United Way and the Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum. Steve and his wife Allison have four children.

Meet our Advisors

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Evan Cumalander

Evan Cumalander

Wealth Advisor

Evan joined IronGate in 2014 after gaining experience in wealth management at Edward Jones. Evan works closely with the partners and clients of the firm to deliver exceptional service and outcomes. Evan graduated from Hampden-Sydney College where he was a member of the varsity lacrosse team. An avid hunter and fisherman, Evan has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife conservation.
Lil Mercer CEP®

Lil Mercer CEP®

Wealth Advisor

Lil brings over 20 years of financial services experience and vast financial planning knowledge to IronGate Partners. She specializes in retirement planning and investment management for clients throughout the Southeast. Lil also enjoys using tax-efficient gifting strategies to help clients leave assets to their loved ones and favorite charities.
Cleve Nordeen

Cleve Nordeen

Wealth Advisor

Cleve joined IronGate Partners in 2010 with 17 years experience servicing the financial needs of both individuals and families throughout the Southeast. He came to the firm to manage his clients’ assets with a proactive wealth management approach and has extensive expertise in helping business owners. Raised in the coastal area, he graduated from UNC - Wilmington with a Finance degree and is active outdoors and on the water with his wife Eleanor and three children.
Jania Stout

Jania Stout

Retirement Plan Specialist

Jania Stout is a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Fiduciary Plan Advisors at HighTower. She brings more than 20 years of experience in ERISA plan consulting to the team.

Prior to HighTower, Jania founded the Fiduciary Consulting Group at PSA, a team of consultants that had a unified focus on helping plan sponsors with their fiduciary responsibilities, in 2009. She grew the practice from approximately $300 million to nearly $3 billion in assets in approximately five years. Jania also served as a Senior Account Executive for Fidelity Investments, where she built retirement plan solutions for mid-market companies. Jania began her career at ADP’s Retirement Services Division and spent 10 years helping them become one of the largest retirement plan providers in the country, working with channel partners such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

Jania was appointed to the Leadership Council of National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) in 2014. She is a regular speaker at the Plan Sponsor National Conference, as well as a contributor to many industry publications. Jania’s team won NAPA’s prestigious 401(k) Advisor Leadership Award in 2013, and she has been featured in the Washington Post, 401(k) Wire and 401(k) Advisor Magazine.

Jania earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Philosophy from Hofstra University. She holds her Series 6, 7, 63 and 66 licenses, and is a 2008 graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) Leadership program. Jania also serves as a board member of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.

In her free time, Jania coaches girls’ lacrosse and is the lacrosse commissioner at LTRC, where she oversees 36 youth teams across the state. She resides in Phoenix, MD with her two daughters, Hannah and Sophie.

Meet Our Team

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Mead Briggs

Mead Briggs

Senior Investment Strategist

A retired 30-year Wall Street executive and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury nominee with strong experience in government securities, Mead joined IronGate in early 2010 to assist with directing investment strategy and manager research. During his long career in investing, Briggs’ opinions on the economy and capital markets were sought after by central banks, institutional investors, and financial news services, including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN.
Alex McDonald

Alex McDonald

Director of Financial Planning

Alex will be responsible for working with the firm’s Partners and Wealth Advisors to help clients with “all things financial” to alleviate some of the burden of overseeing their wealth, and have a plan that covers important issues that many advisors often don't address.   


Nona Embry

Nona Embry

Director of Operations / Compliance

Nona Embry has been an integral part of IronGate Partners since its inception. She handles the compliance, insurance and portfolio reporting for the firm’s clients. Prior to IronGate, Nona worked in property management for about ten years.
Nicole Nelson

Nicole Nelson

Director of Client Service

Nicole works closely with the Partners and Wealth Advisors to assist in the pursuit of excellent client service. She oversees client care and coordinates all the firm’s events and marketing initiatives. Prior to joining IronGate Partners, Nicole spent the majority of her career in retail management and merchandising.
Cathy Demirdjian

Cathy Demirdjian

Financial Services Team Leader

Cathy provides financial services support for the firm’s clients. She also oversees new accounts and the investment transfer process. Before joining the IronGate team, Cathy worked in the employee benefits field. She also holds licenses in life, health, medicare supplement, and long-term care insurance.
Lynne Trotta, CFP®

Lynne Trotta, CFP®

Financial Planning Specialist

As a practicing CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional for the past 23 years, Lynne brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to IronGate. She also currently holds an advanced certificate with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly and is an IRS registered tax preparer. Lynne has previously worked overseas as a tax preparer and as a financial planner in the Washington, DC area. In her role at IronGate, Lynne works with the firm’s partners and wealth advisors to deliver financial planning solutions to our clients.
Clem Seifert, AAMS®

Clem Seifert, AAMS®

Business Development

Clem joined IronGate as a financial advisor in 2012 with over 15 years of experience from Edward Jones serving the needs of clients throughout the Southeast. He is now working on his MBA at the Cameron School of Business at UNC – Wilmington and works with IronGate in business development and to enhance established client relationships.