Meet Our Leadership Team!
"Making Financial Experiences Better"
President & Founder
Trent has led Central Payments since the company's inception in 2014. He was an architect of Central Payments’ Open*CP Fintech API Marketplace, one of the only true bank-as-a-service payment platforms and the technology responsible for Central Payments’ rise to the fastest growing prepaid card issuer since 2015.* With more than 28 years of debit, credit, and prepaid payments experience, Trent is responsible for products garnering nine Pay before Awards. He is also the inventor on 14 patents related to consumer financial services. In 2016, Trent was named to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Community Bank Advisory Council and chaired the agency’s Cards, Payments, and Deposit Markets Committee. He is a co-founder of Falls Fintech, a startup accelerator program committed to bridging the bank-fintech partnership gap and sits on the Board of Directors for the Central Bank of Kansas City. *Source: The Nilson Report, 2015 to 2019.
Executive Vice President & Chief Risk Officer
Mandy leads the Enterprise Risk teams including AML/BSA, Compliance, Third Party Risk and Information Security for Central Payments. She brings more than 24 years of experience in financial services and risk management with issuing banks as well as program managers. She oversees all facets of risk and compliance during program implementation and provides ongoing support post-launch. Mandy works closely with Central Payments’ business partners providing guidance on regulatory requirements, industry best practices and risk mitigation strategies. She is a board member of the Payment Risk Fraud Consortium (PRFC) and holds a certification in Certified Financial Crimes Specialist (CFCS).
Executive Vice President & General Manager
With more than 15 years of experience in payments at a national issuing bank and national program manager, Eric brings a unique point of view to many of the challenges faced in the payments industry today. His proven track record in product and program development demonstrates his acumen for propelling concepts to market. He is the driving force behind successfully launching and overseeing programs utilizing Central Payment's Open*CP Fintech API MarketplaceSM, one of the only true bank-as-a-service payment platforms.
Executive Vice President, Strategy & Managing Director of Falls Fintech
With more than 20 years of experience in financial services and payments, Nikkee is responsible for ensuring that the Central Payments suite of services, products, and technological capabilities are responsive to the marketplace. Nikkee is also the co-founder and managing director of Falls Fintech, Central Payments’ fintech accelerator program. She also sits on the advisory board for RiftPay, a fintech company that was part of Falls Fintech cohort two.
Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer
Heather leads the Central Payments operations team which includes implementations, IT, ACH, settlement and quality assurance. She brings more than 20 years of financial services experience, leadership and operations excellence to this role. She has extensive experience in the payments space working with several issuing banks and numerous program managers and processors. Heather believes in building people, and teams, around a culture of innovation and success.
Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Jennifer is responsible for administering the strategy and means by which data is used, delivered, shared, stored, and accessed by Central Payments’ employees and authorized third parties as well as management of technology-related assets, security, vendors, and regulatory/industry compliance and certifications. She has over two decades of experience as a successful leader in the telecommunications industry, including account management, sales engineering, product marketing and service delivery. Jennifer uses her well rounded business experience to provide technology solutions that keep Central Payments functioning day in and day out.
Vice President of Business Development
With over 21 years of progressive product, sales, marketing and business development experience, Gretel is a diplomatic leader focused on turning unique client ideas into successful, state-of-the-art programs. Having started her career with the most well-known card brand and two leading processors, she has extensive experience cultivating complex relationships and launching successful debit, prepaid, payroll, government disbursement and incentive programs. Gretel uses a hands-on, specialized approach to client development and is passionate about making financial experiences better for everyone.
Vice President of Information Systems
Jason’s background includes engineering, software development, and technical management that spans various industries with extensive experience in payments. Jason approaches business and technical challenges by leveraging domain-driven-design and systems engineering methodologies. Jason believes in fostering business growth and stability by bridging the communications gap between partners and technical resources. Jason focuses on partner integration, program technical support, and IT support.
Jo Ann Sowers
Vice President of Client Services
With over 20 years in the payments industry, Jo Ann brings deep bench strength to Central Payments. During her career, she has partnered with both emerging payment and Fortune 50 companies to enable growth for their financial service programs. Jo Ann leverages her extensive experience to support Central Payments’ partners achieve program goals. She focuses on developing and deploying strategies to maximize the client and customer experience, drive proactive solutions, and attain service level commitments with the goal to increase program volumes and client retention.
Adrian Escalona Jr.
Vice President & Senior Counsel
Adrian joined Central Payments after spending almost a decade as in-house counsel in the short-term consumer financial services industry. Adrian’s well-rounded business experience in conjunction with his work in regulatory compliance, secured and unsecured lending, and commercial agreement negotiation, provides the necessary background to support an ever changing and growing business. Some of Adrian’s primary responsibilities at Central Payments include providing legal guidance on complex legal issues, drafting and negotiating commercial contracts, identifying risks, and resolving issues.
Assistant Vice President/Senior Director of Client Services
Kelli’s experience in the financial industry spans more than 20 years, including 15+ years in relationship and project management. Her background in finance, customer service, and operations promotes creative problem-solving for partners. Kelli is adept at building strong relationships and is focused on program success from implementation through the life of Central Payments’ partner programs.
Vice President of Implementations
Shannon is responsible for applying expert knowledge, providing strategic direction, and solving complex challenges for partners. She brings a detailed and timely approach to Central Payments’ implementations. Her broad background includes deep implementation experience working with numerous program managers, processors, and associations. She focuses on producing and delivering programs that are compliant, on-time, and on-budget.
Assistant Vice President/Senior Director of Program Management
With six years of experience in prepaid issuing & program management, Leah has a strong understanding of program, client and vendor management. Leah leads Central Payments’ program management team, who contribute to program implementation, day-to-day operations and overall cardholder experience. Leah is a 2020 graduate of Embe Women’s Leadership program and 2021 graduate of Leadership South Dakota.
Assistant Vice President & Controller
Michele has more than 25 years of accounting and operations experience in the payments industry with national issuing banks. Her background includes financial and regulatory reporting, reconciliation, project management and escheatment. She brings extensive experience developing and enhancing internal controls and implementing process improvements focused on accuracy and efficiency to this role.
Assistant Vice President/Senior Director of Enterprise Risk
Jessica was promoted to lead the organization's enterprise risk function in 2020 after three years as the Third Party Risk Manager and In-House Counsel. In her current role, she ensures that Central Payments' corporate governance processes remain strong and the organization's overall risk profile is at the forefront of the decision-making process. Jess is a frequent speaker at national payments conferences on compliance and ACH -related topics. She is an Accredited ACH Professional, a Certified Vendor Program Manager, a licensed attorney, and a member of the South Dakota Bar Association.
Director of Platform Services
Amy oversees our Central Payments platforms, including our Open*CP API platform. Her background includes over 20 years of professional experience, acting as a liaison between business and technology leadership teams in various industries, including consumer products, financial services, and retail. Amy is skilled at relationship management with internal and external resources, collaborating with team members to design solutions to meet strategic project objectives. She leverages her exceptional interpersonal communication skills to build and maintain strong relationships with all levels of the organization, clients, partners, and vendors to achieve corporate goals and objectives.