Though Meridian officially began in 2015, founding partners Sarah Yakel and Nathan Gilbert both come to the firm with distinguished careers helping individuals and organizations attain their goals — earning the unwavering trust of many long-term clients along the way.
Sarah J. Yakel, Partner
Sarah brings to Meridian more than 15 years of experience in investment and trusts, coupled with an ability to clearly communicate a client’s unique path to financial peace of mind. Respected by her peers for smart investment strategies, retirement planning skills, and estate and trust expertise, Sarah brings clarity to those who come to her for help.
After graduating from Campbell University in 1999 with a degree in Trust Management and Financial Planning, Sarah joined the Trust department of Peoples National Bank, which ultimately became BB&T Wealth Management. While at BB&T, Sarah realized she wanted to help people plan for all their financial needs, not just trust assets. So she passed the rigorous Certified Financial Planner® exam. Seeking greater opportunities to work directly with clients, she left BB&T in 2004 and joined TFB Wealth Management.
At TFB, Sarah poured her energy into developing their financial planning program, helping hundreds of individuals, families, and small-business owners plan for and achieve their life goals.
When she’s not reading the Journal of Financial Planning, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and three children in their Fauquier community. She is a founding member and current chair of Leadership Fauquier, a leadership development organization, and volunteers for local nonprofits.
As for her own life goals, Sarah occasionally gets to indulge her love of cooking and travel by making something other than hot dogs or chicken nuggets, and by driving further than two hours from Warrenton. Cooking and traveling are among the ambitions Sarah is crafting her financial plan to achieve.
Nathan S. Gilbert, Partner
Over the course of more than 16 years, Nathan has provided financial advice and wealth management services to hundreds of individuals, families, and organizations. A native of Greenwich, Virginia, Nathan attended nearby James Madison University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. During college he worked in several capacities for The Fauquier Bank. An internship in the bank’s Investments and Trust department taught him much about the business of investment management — but also important lessons about listening to and dealing with clients’ complex situations.
After college, Nathan attained FINRA Series 7 and 66 investment licenses and continued to work for TFB’s Wealth Management area as a licensed assistant. He supported other advisors in areas ranging from stock and bond trading to presentations on retirement and estate planning. In time, Nathan became a full-time financial advisor and a Vice President for TFB Wealth Management Services.
Throughout his career, both as a licensed assistant and as an advisor, Nathan focused on trust planning and investment management, taking a series of courses at Cannon Financial Institute that helped him gain the Certified Trust Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation.
Nathan is proud that he and Sarah have employed the best practices of financial planning and investment management in creating Meridian Financial Partners. He brings to the firm a passion for helping clients gain knowledge through clear communication and wholly unbiased advice.
Outside the office, Nathan serves as a board member for Didlake, Inc., a nonprofit government contractor in Manassas that helps adults with disabilities. He enjoys spending time with his three children and wife Melissa at their home in Haymarket. Nathan is also very active in the Evergreen community, and cherishes his time on the local golf course (or pretty much any golf course).
Sarah G. Irving, Client Service Administrator
Sarah Irving, the newest member of Meridian Financial Partners, holds over 5 years of experience working within financial services. In her most recent role at Prospect 33, a global consultancy firm, Sarah served as a client relationship manager supporting Operations, Change Management, and Regulatory programs for several international Investment Banks.
Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Business Administration from Elon University. Halfway through her education, she began to unearth a passion and knack for business and finance. She felt a calling to develop a career in the finance industry while combining her inherent curiosity for relationship management.
In her role at Prospect 33, Sarah gained deep industry insight—which resulted in her management of both project delivery and client relationships of two of the largest accounts held by the company. She took over these accounts after only 2 ½ years with Prospect 33.
Sarah is extremely passionate about developing her professional network, continuing her education within finance, and focusing on both social responsibility and community involvement. She is over the moon to be growing a long-term career with Meridian Financial Partners and aspires to gain her CFP in the coming years.
Sarah stays on the go with her daughter, husband, three dogs, two cats, and a continuously growing list of DIY and home improvement projects. When she’s not listening one of her favorite financial podcasts, you will find her surrounded by her family with a paint roller in one hand and sledge hammer in the other.
Gretchen M. Kelsey, Client Support Specialist
When asked to describe herself, Gretchen Kelsey won’t hesitate to bring up her strong work ethic and her habit of committing fully to whatever goal she has set. She received her Associate’s degree in Mathematics from Onondaga Community College in just one year — graduating summa cum laude. She continued her education at SUNY Geneseo, where she received a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.
Gretchen’s talent and tenacity quickly landed her an independent contractor position at Tri-Ed Tutoring. She had worked for Tri-Ed for a little less than a year when she was brought on as the company’s second full-time employee. This new position required Gretchen to fulfill the duties of networker, accountant, secretary, teacher, manager, and administrator. She felt both empowered and fulfilled by these roles.
Gretchen’s hard work and successes have led her to Meridian Financial Partners, which not only challenges her professionally but also provides plenty of opportunities for growth.
Gretchen brings boundless enthusiasm and a passion for organization to Meridian. She’s committed to providing the highest level of support to every Meridian client. She believes her commitment to running the office efficiently will help the firm’s clients feel welcomed, comfortable, secure, and able to focus on what truly matters: their financial journey.
Why We Do It
We’re honored to be a part of your financial journey — to provide guidance along the path, lend support during difficult times and celebrate your successes. We’re gratified by the long-term, mutually trusting relationships we’ve established. We strive each day to be fully engaged with our clients, delivering exceptional advice, strategies, and service.
What We Value
At Meridian, we strive to:
- Earn long-term trusting relationships
- Communicate openly, clearly and respectfully
- Create fearless, engaging and productive client experiences
- Be authentic, grateful and generous
- Stay curious and seek knowledge
- Serve our communities in a caring manner