John Hershey III, AWM

Managing Director - Financial Advisor, Senior Portfolio Manager - Portfolio Focus

Email |

John learned the importance of prudent investing from his father, long-time advisor Jack Hershey. John graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Lehigh University in 1985. He has earned the respect of his clients during more than 28 years in the financial services industry.


John has participated in several industry educational programs over his career and has taught investment education classes at Hagerstown Community College, Shepherd University, and Hood College. He has also received the Accredited Wealth Manager designation. The AWM program is an internal, professional designation specifically designed for RBC Wealth Management in conjunction with the Academy of Multidisciplinary Practice, Inc., and is accredited by the Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at Michigan State University.


John lives in Hagerstown with his wife, Erin, and their two children, Holden and London. John is a strong believer in community involvement, and is a former president of The Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown Downtown Rotary Club and San Mar Children’s Home. He currently sits on the board of the Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies and the Community Foundation of Washington County. John was named as one of the Top Five Outstanding Young Marylanders by the Hagerstown Jaycees. In his spare time, John enjoys running, traveling, fly fishing and spending time with his family.

Brendan Fitzsimmons, AWM, PhD

Senior Vice President - Branch Director, Senior Portfolio Manager - Portfolio Focus

Email | |

After graduating from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in music and history, Brendan attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a Master of Arts in Historical Musicology. He holds a PhD in business management with a specialty in finance from Capella University. He worked in the commercial real estate industry with his wife’s family for several years before his interest in the stock market led him to join his former advisor, John Hershey, at Ferris, Baker Watts — now RBC Wealth Management — in January 1999. Brendan formed The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group with John in 2001. In December 2007, Brendan was named one of the Top 40 Advisors Under 40 by On Wall Street magazine. He holds the designation of Accredited Wealth Manager from Michigan State University, a distinction he earned in 2010. In 2011, he was one of only 20 branch directors chosen to participate in an advanced training and advisory program at RBC Wealth Management.

Brendan lives in Williamsport with his wife, Katie, and their two children. He is an avid reader who has been known to disappear into a book for days, and he enjoys spending time with his family, of skiing enthusiasts. Several years ago he began coaching his son’s lacrosse team and has become a huge fan of the sport. He is also a certified swim official with both USA Swimming and the National Federation of High Schools.

Brendan believes in giving back to the community and has served as president of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and the Washington County Historical Society. Brendan has served on the boards of the Washington County Free Library and the Washington County Arts Council. He currently is a member of the board of trustees of Meritus Medical Center. He and Katie are also heavily involved in the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown.

Laura Herrera, CPA

First Vice President - Financial Advisor, Portfolio Manager - Portfolio Focus

Email | |

Laura remembers learning about the “bulls and bears” at a very young age from her grandfather, long-time advisor Jack Hershey. She began her career with Ernst & Young in New York City. Her first audit client was The NASDAQ Stock Market. Laura was able to expand her knowledge of the markets and investing during the three years she audited NASDAQ.


Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Lehigh University. While in New York for her first post-graduate job, she also earned her CPA license. In 2011, Laura made a decision to return to her hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland. Coinciding with her move back to Hagerstown, The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group was looking to expand. Laura was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to join the practice and she enjoys working with clients to help individuals and families meet their financial goals.


Laura is active in the Rotary Club of Hagerstown-Sunrise and she is a past president. She lives in Hagerstown with her husband, Aryeh. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time with family and friends. She practices yoga and she likes being outdoors, especially hiking and biking.

Gerald Spessard, CFP®

Associate Vice President - Financial Advisor

Email | |

Gerry graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics while attending the University of Maryland, College Park on an athletic scholarship. He was a four-time varsity letter winner for the Terrapin baseball team and still holds several school records. During his final year of playing eligibility, Gerry obtained his master’s degree in real estate development.

In 2014, Gerry joined his sister, Laura, and The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group. Gerry was excited by the opportunity to join this team and looks forward to using his hard work ethic and perseverance to assist clients in achieving their financial objectives. In addition, Gerry has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.

Gerry lives in Frederick, Maryland, with his wife, Stef. In their spare time they like to stay active by playing tennis and hiking the nearby trails with their chocolate lab, Jackson. They also enjoy spending time with family and friends. Gerry is a member of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek as well as the University of Maryland M Club — with a strong tradition of “Athletes helping Athletes” — and the baseball program’s Home Run Club.

Jennifer Brandenburg

Branch Service Mgr/Sr Registered Client Assoc


Jennifer began her career in the securities industry in 1993 with Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc. which became RBC Wealth Management in 2009.  She has over 25 years of exceptional client service experience and has served as the Branch Service Manager and Senior Registered Client Associate for the Hagerstown branch.

Jennifer graduated from Towson University with a degree in Finance and from Frostburg State University with a MBA.  She has passed the Series 7, 9, 10, 63, 65 exams and holds her Life & Health Insurance licenses. Jennifer displays a strong work ethic, is committed to delivering first class service and considers it a privilege to work with our valued clients each day.

Jennifer currently serves as an executive board member on the Middletown High School Sports Club.  A lifelong native of Frederick County, Jennifer resides in Myersville, with her husband, Chuck, and their two children, Haven and Jake.  Jennifer enjoys cheering on her daughter at Messiah College’s Women’s lacrosse games and enjoys cheering on her son at all Middletown High School and Maryland 3d lacrosse games.

Gretchen Gawler

Client Associate


Gretchen graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design and minors in both Business and Spanish. She began her career in the investment industry with RBC Wealth Management in 2009. 

As a member of the team Gretchen’s focus is on extending exceptional personalized service to all clients of The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group as well as providing daily administrative support. 

Born and raised in Frederick County, Maryland, Gretchen currently resides in Myersville, with her husband, Will, their chocolate lab, Brodie, and belgian malinois, Gus. When away from the office she enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as traveling and gardening.

The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group


John, Brendan, Laura and Gerry have more than 60 years of combined experience in the financial services industry. They are Investment Advisor Representatives and hold securities licenses in more than 25 states. In addition, they all strongly believe in giving back to the community and are active in a variety of organizations.

Let’s take the next step together

We would value the opportunity to learn more about your financial goals and how we can be of service to you. Please contact us at 301-733-7111,, or fill out the form below to schedule a meeting. We look forward to hearing from you.

Please complete the following form to request more information. *indicates a required field

*Required fields