Just three weeks after an earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, Mark Shepherd, his wife and two of his three teenage children flew into the Dominican Republic, hoping to volunteer in the relief effort with a hospital unit. Unfortunately, their trip happened to coincide with the Idaho missionary kidnapping incident, and Shepherd says gaining access to Haiti became very difficult. Shepherd hopes to go to Haiti in the fall with a group of volunteers from a foundation he and his friends started called Gulf Coast Volunteers for the Long Haul — the group's name doesnt' dictate its reach .
Shepherd helped start the foundation in the fall of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. “Once everybody leaves and the media is gone, then what happens? What do you hear about Haiti or New Orleans now? Our organization is still there three and half years later. That's why we're called Long Haul For the Gulf Coast, and it's the long haul for anywhere,” says Shepherd. The foundation provides ‘pods’ full of construction equipment and building materials to low income areas where homes have been destroyed by natural disaster. Shepherd's latest trip in April to the Hurricane-ravaged coast of North Carolina marks his 4th trip down to the Gulf Coast area in the past 3 years.
A tireless volunteer, Shepherd leads by the example he sets — he believes those fortunate enough to reach their life goals “should live to give.” Shepherd reached his own goals with a lot of hard work: he put himself through college with returns from a personal investment portfolio he managed, which was funded through a house painting business and a side job loading trucks for UPS. After stints at KPMG and IDS Life, he became an independent advisor with LPL in 1991. Today, his firm Shepherd Financial Partners manages $500 million for around 100 clients.
Shepherd decided to start doing volunteer work after he watched a college friend and a skier lose her leg to diabetes. A student at Colorado University in Boulder at the time, he began teaching disabled people how to ski in nearby Winter Park. Today, Shepherd is in his 12th year on the board of directors of AbilityPlus, a foundation that provides adaptive winter sports equipment for disabled people. He has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the foundation by hosting fundraisers and other events and has taught well over 200 people how to ski, including U.S. soldiers from the Walter Reed Medical Center. For Shepherd, who has Multiple Sclerosis, hauling a 175-pound quadriplegic up a hill in a 60-pound skiing apparatus is a pretty big challenge. “The satisfaction of seeing that person smile after the feat they just accomplished is amazing.”
Firm: Shepherd Financial Partners/ LPL
City: Winchester, Mass.
Years as a rep: 22 years
Years with current firm: 19 years
Production: $1.5 million
AUM: $250 million
Product mix: managed accounts, 60%; advisory fees for pension plans, 40%.
Specialty: family wealth management and full service pension advisor.
Designations, licenses: CFP, AIF, Series 7, 24, 63, 65.