JESSE C. ZORA, CFP®
Managing Director and Financial Planner
Jesse was born in Birmingham and raised in parts of Alabama and Louisiana. At age ten, he moved with his family to Kansas City. He graduated in 2001 from Rockhurst High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school for young men. Soon after, Jesse joined the United States Army where he strengthened his persistence, discipline, and integrity over the next six years serving as an infantryman. After being selected into the sniper section, he served in all positions: Shooter, Spotter, and Sniper Employment Officer. He finished his Army career at the rank of Staff Sergeant and amongst other awards, he received a Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal with Valor during his two tours in Iraq. After getting out of the Army, Jesse returned to Alabama to obtain a double concentration in Family Financial Planning and Counseling and Consumer Affairs from the University of Alabama. He graduated magna cum laude in only two and a half years and then pursued his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. When he's not working, Jesse enjoys being outdoors, specifically backpacking and hiking. He has lived in Birmingham, Alabama since 2011 and loves living in the Five Points South District of Downtown. Jesse serves as Treasurer of the Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club and Director of Career Development for the North Alabama chapter of FPA (Financial Planning Association). Jesse is dedicated to spreading objectivity in an industry that is consumed with sales goals, commissions, and other obvious conflicts of interest.
Ross W. Kennedy
Ross was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended the Mountain Brook School System, graduating from high school in 2012. He enrolled at the University of Alabama the following fall. Ross majored in Consumer Sciences with a double concentration in Family Financial Financial Planning & Counseling (CFP® Board Registered Program) and Consumer Affairs. While in school, Ross was an active member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, the UA FPA chapter, the Academic Honor Council, Phi Upsilon Omicron (Human Environmental Sciences honor society), and Phi Eta Sigma honor society. Ross held various leadership positions in these groups including social chair for Sigma Chi, treasurer for the UA FPA Chapter, and vice president for Phi Upsilon Omicron. While in school, he was named to the President's List and Dean's List. He graduated cum laude in four years with a Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences in May, 2016. Ross' financial planning training consists of two different internships in Birmingham. His first internship was with McClain Lovejoy Financial Planning, LLC, during the summer of 2015. He enjoyed working with Eric McClain on a daily basis and was able to get his first look into a fee-only financial planning firm. His most memorable experiences at McClain Lovejoy include sitting in on client meetings and working with different financial planning technologies. His second internship occurred in the spring of 2016, at Zora Financial, as an Intern for Financial Planning and Business Development. Ross enjoyed working with Jesse once a week as he assisted him with daily tasks and sat in on occasional meetings. Both of Ross' internships were great experiences that led him to accepting a full-time job as an Apprentice Planner with Zora Financial in April. Ross has always had an interest in finances throughout his life. He wanted to find a way to be able to interact with people and be involved in finance conjointly. When enrolling at the University of Alabama, he met Jan Brakefield, who was the head of the Financial Planning department. She introduced him to financial planning and he was immersed with extensive coursework. Ross' involvement with FPA of North Alabama was another reason why he chose to make it his career. Since his junior year in college, he has regularly attended chapter meetings and has enjoyed building relationships with his fellow members. The people that have mentored Ross are heavily involved in fee-only financial planning and recognize the importance of shaping a client’s financial future through holistic financial planning. They were huge factors in determining Ross' career path. When he’s not working, Ross enjoys playing golf, fishing, and hanging out with friends and family. He also enjoys vacationing at the beach. Ross is excited to be back in Birmingham and looks forward to joining networking groups in the area. He continues his education as he will be sitting for the CFP® exam in March of 2017. He looks forward to meeting all of Zora Financial's existing and prospective clients.