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The people behind Payliance

Our management team is comprised of expert payment solution professionals that position our company to provide merchant-focused, technology-driven, and partner-friendly solutions.

John Cullen


Many merchants, both large and small count on Payliance to secure their cash flow in an efficient, reliable way. Payliance provides best-in-class solutions to payments and treasury challenges across several industries and implementation models. We are laser focused on serving our merchants.

Just as important is my role in creating opportunities for our team. We’re not punching a time clock, we’re getting after it. The reward is a fast-paced day and meaningful, career-advancing work for our team members. And the opportunity to work with like-minded people who get up every day working to create something better. We keep each other honest. If it’s not good enough we say it.

We’re serial entrepreneurs with a 20-year track record. 3 companies, 2 public exits with Payliance being the 3rd. We ran a PE fund and have done several buy-side transactions. I learned a ton from smart people at Accenture and JP Morgan Chase earlier in my career.

Steve Valachovic

EVP Sales & Business Development

I’m a co-founder of Payliance and serve in a sales leadership role. I operate every day with the belief that Payliance is successful when we support the success of our clients. That has to be true for our clients as companies and individuals. I spent my early career with a large consulting firm focused on strategy and operational reengineering. After that, it’s been all entrepreneurial. I’ve been part of three interesting and very diverse start-ups.  Three different industries, one consistent approach – passion for creating a great value for our clients and our people.

When not traveling to meet with Payliance clients, I live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and four kids.

John Gilbert


Every transaction matters.

I’ve spent my career designing, developing, implementing, operating and integrating financial software systems. I joined Payliance because of the shared vision to build something great. We know merchants rely on us as a key partner providing services that support their business and that drives us to exceed their expectations.

I’m an Ohio native, although I wish it had a beach and currently call Columbus home with my wife and two children. When I’m not thinking about payment processing, you’ll find me out training for the next Boston Marathon.

Stephanie K. Hart

Stephanie Hart is the Chief Risk Officer at Payliance in Columbus, Ohio, where she and her team work to combat fraud and other inherent risks of payments processing. She is a graduate of Smith College, where she double-majored in American Studies and Ethics. After taking a year off to live and work in New York City, Stephanie graduated from the University of Maryland with a master’s degree in Higher Education Policy and Administration, followed by completing a law degree at the University of Florida. After finishing her education, Stephanie returned to Columbus, where she worked at 2Checkout, Alliance Data, and KeyBank before joining Payliance. In addition, Stephanie is a subject matter expert in consumer protection laws and regulations surrounding card and ACH payments.

Joe Lane

VP of Sales

I drive new client acquisition for Payliance and lead a team of dedicated salespeople focused on bringing value to our customers through the innovative solutions we deliver.  Early in my sales career, I was instilled with the importance of the win-win approach to business negotiations and it’s a mantra that drives my team at Payliance.

Prior to joining Payliance, I spent 25 years growing fintech companies large and small.  Two things have been consistent throughout my career, working in the payment industry and focusing on serving customers.

I have always called the Northeast home and currently reside in New Hampshire with my wife and 3 adult children.  When I’m not helping my team bring value to Payliance customers, I enjoy spending time with my family boating on Lake Winnepesaukee, cheering on New England sports teams and trying to keep my 3 dogs from actually catching that squirrel.

James Robinson

Director of Product

As a part of the fintech community for over 15 years my experiences have helped to shape the perspective that focused product delivery leads to continued growth and success.  Our goal of delivering the best merchant experience is a team effort that starts with the right people, solid client collaboration and a clear organizational vision.  I think we hit the trifecta on all three at Payliance.  We make it a priority to not only incorporate our vision into the products and services we provide, but also rely on our merchants’ insights to drive towards a common goal.

On the personal side, my wife and I, along with our two daughters, reside in central Ohio.  I hold a degree in Management Information Systems from Miami University and an MBA from DePaul University.  Additionally, I have held a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification since 2010 as I believe every good product delivery cycle begins with a good plan.

Randy Yost

Director of IT Operations

Ever been surfing before?  Technology is a bit like catching a wave.  If you don’t stay active and alert, it’ll likely pass you by or swallow you up.  Payliance is steadily cruising on that technology wave and as the IT Operations manager I couldn’t be more excited to be along for the ride.

I spent my youth balancing the fun of the outdoors with the emergence of widespread internet access.  Some thirty years later it sort of still feels like I am doing the same thing.  No complaints here!  I graduated from the University of Dayton in 2006 where I studied Computer Science.  When I am not working you might find me vigorously cheering on my alma-mater, working on a home-project that is destined to take longer than I had previously envisioned, or simply lounging by an open-fire.

Cindy Sarris, CPA


A Central Ohio native, I discovered my passion for Accounting early on in high school, and never looked back. I received a BA in Accounting from Wittenberg University, became a certified CPA, and then earned my MBA.

Over the years, I’ve had many experiences in large and small organizations, and involved with both international and domestic activities across a variety of industries. My passion and strength is helping organizations establish Accounting controls, efficiencies, and reporting to support business growth.

Columbus is home for me along with my husband and highly energetic cat, Simba. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, being outdoors and gaining new experiences. Life is too short not to experience as much as you can, and share those experiences with others.

Essa Naser

Director of Marketing

An Ohio native, serial entrepreneur, startup mentor, and FinTech activist, Essa founded a leading Brand Experience Firm out of his apartment after quitting his job and nothing in the bank. He grew it to a multi-million-dollar business with hundreds of raving clients and a rock-star team, ultimately to a successful exit in June of 2018, all before the age of forty. Since the acquisition, Essa has earned his Executive Master of Business Administration from Xavier University, graduating at the top of his class along with an invitation to join the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honorary Society. Today, Essa intends to use his 25+ years of experience in Brand, CX, Digital Marketing, and Product Innovation to deploy go-to-market and product marketing strategies as Marketing Director at Payliance.

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