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Meet Our Team

Each of our team members has a unique story that sparked their interest in finance, whether it was buying their first stock at age 11 or starting an investment club at age 12.  We enjoy working together as a team, leveraging our two century-plus years of combined experience, to take care of our clients during even the most volatile market environments.  Even more, we consider our clients family.  We love what we do, and we enjoy being able to help our clients daily.

The Founders Group

Michael Berard

Senior Vice President/Investments

Michael, one of the team’s founders, works with a select group of high-net-worth individuals and institutions to develop and implement investment plans tailored to their specific objectives and risk tolerances.  He believes that each client deserves a financial advisor who delivers highly personalized, well-researched guidance and outstanding personal service while adhering to unbending standards of integrity.  With more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, Michael focuses on providing comprehensive wealth management services with an emphasis on seeking portfolio growth and risk mitigation of capital.  Michael was named to Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022.1 

Michael began his investment industry career in 1992 and joined Stifel in 2020.  He earned a B.A. in Economics from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds Series 7, 31, 63, and 65 securities licenses, as well as life, health, and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).

Outside the office, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, Meredith, and his two boys, Austin and Remy.  Michael is an avid saltwater fly fisherman and enjoys playing tennis and golf.

Forbes’ Best-In-State Wealth Advisors, April 7, 2022, January 16, 2020, February 21, 2019, and February 15, 2018, each based on the 12-month period ending June 30 of the year prior to publication. Rankings are based on the opinions of SHOOK Research, LLC and selected from a pool of nominations as indicated in the methodology. Neither SHOOK Research nor Forbes receive compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. The rankings may not be representative of any one client’s experience and are not indicative of the financial advisor’s future performance. Investment performance is not a criterion for selection. Forbes is a registered trademark of Forbes, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information on the selection methodology, see

Richard Dworsky

Senior Vice President/Investments

Ricky, one of the team’s co-founders, has been in the investment industry since 1983 and joined Stifel in 2020.  As a portfolio manager in Stifel’s Solutions Program, Ricky specializes in managing his clients’ assets on a discretionary basis, with an emphasis on equities, portfolio hedging strategies, and overall asset allocation.  He has been managing discretionary portfolios since 1986 and has been managing client portfolios for other financial advisors since 1993.  In his nearly 40-year tenure, Ricky has gained extensive experience with options, technical/fundamental analysis, and equity selection.

Ricky earned a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds Series 3, 7, 15, 63, and 65 securities licenses, as well as life, health, and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).

Outside the office, Ricky enjoys spending time and taking trips with his wife of 30 years, Diane. Ricky likes to cook, preparing everything from paella to Thanksgiving dinner.

Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against loss.

The Solutions program requires a minimum investment, which varies by strategy.  Ask your Financial Advisor for a Disclosure Brochure, which further outlines the fees, services, exclusions, and disclosures associated with this program.  Since all investment decisions in a Solutions account are made by the Financial Advisor without having to receive prior client approval, it is important that Solutions clients have detailed knowledge of the Financial Advisor’s individual investment philosophy and decision-making process before entrusting him or her with their portfolio.  You should consider all terms and conditions before deciding whether the Solutions Program and any particular strategy are appropriate for your needs. 


Frank Dworsky, CFP

Senior Vice President/Investments

Frank specializes in constructing customized strategies designed to suit each individual client’s needs.  He does this through a consultative process, where he gains a detailed understanding of each client’s goals.  He then uses this information to build a comprehensive wealth management strategy.

Frank has nearly 45 years of experience working with high-net-worth families.  During his extensive tenure as a financial advisor, 22 years were spent as a Branch Manager and Divisional Manager.  Frank is passionate about what he does, and feels fortunate to be able to continue to work with such wonderful clients and colleagues.  He earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds Series 7, 8, 63, and 65 securities licenses, as well as life, health, and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).  Frank also earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification after completing coursework through the College for Financial Planning.

Outside the office, Frank likes to spend time with his wife, Carole, and their four children and seven grandchildren.  He also enjoys golfing and is a keen world traveler.  Having traveled to four continents in the past few years, Frank and Carole hope to visit the other three soon.

Vanessa Haythorn, CFP

Financial Advisor Associate

Vanessa focuses on building client and prospect relationships and assisting the team in developing customized investment plans suited to clients’ financial goals.  Working in a collaborative environment, Vanessa strives to consider individual and family needs through an in-depth discovery process in an effort to provide an optimal path for each client.  She utilizes fact-finding tools designed to account for financial strengths and weaknesses, culminating in a calculated approach to investment planning and wealth management.

Vanessa began her investment industry career in 2008 and joined Stifel in 2020.  She earned a B.S. in Business Administration, Finance from Meredith College and holds Series 3, 7, 9 & 10, 31, and 66 securities licenses, as well as life, health, and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).

In her free time, Vanessa enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Michael.  They have two dogs, Dallas and Sydney, who they enjoy spoiling together.       

Gayle Bomar

Financial Advisor Associate

Gayle has nearly 45 years of experience in the financial services industry, both as a Branch Manager and Financial Advisor.  He has a passion for what he calls the “F’s” in his life:  Faith, Family, Friends, Financial markets, his Founders Group partners, his favorite sport, Football, and the Future!  He believes strongly in the phrase, “Do what you say you’re going to do, and make your word your bond.”  Gayle often says, “Doing business with honesty and integrity, and putting our clients first, is the mantra of every member of our team.”

Gayle likes spending time developing relationships with clients and their families, some of whom he has worked with for more than 25 years.  He also enjoys spending time researching different companies and investment strategies to help clients pursue their goals while mitigating as much risk as possible.

Gayle was a three-year football letterman while at UNC, quarterbacking the Tar Heels in the late 1960s, and was named Co-Captain and MVP of the 1968 team.  He holds Series 7, 63, and 65 securities licenses, as well as life, health, and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).

Outside the office, Gayle enjoys spending time with his wife of nearly 50 years, Margie, his four adult children and their spouses, and their 11 grandchildren.  In his spare time, Gayle loves playing golf and watching other sports, especially football.

Maria Storozheva

Registered Client Service Associate

Maria began her financial services career in 2018 and joined Stifel and The Founders Group in 2020.  Originally from Russia, she moved to the United States and graduated from East Carolina University.  Maria was also a Division 1 Athlete at ECU, received a full scholarship to play tennis, and was a team captain during her senior year.

Maria has always wanted a career in the financial industry.  Her experience as captain of the ECU tennis team gave her exemplary team building and leadership skills, both of which complement her position within The Founders Group.  She holds the Series 7 and 66 securities licenses.

Charlene Gladden

Portfolio Analyst

Charlie began her investment industry experience in 2012 and joined Stifel in 2020.  Her primary responsibility is assisting with investment research, and she is responsible for a wide range of administrative and operational support duties.  She is known as our clients’ “go-to,” and is essential in making sure our team stays organized and runs smoothly and efficiently.

Charlie enjoys spending time with her family and loves to cook.  While she loves her college town of Chapel Hill (Go, Heels!), you will often find her enjoying and exploring her current home near Downtown Raleigh.  She earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds Series 7 and 66 securities licenses, as well as life and variable insurance licenses (including annuities).