Meet Your Team

Executive Leadership

Chris Schwalbach

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Managing Partner

Chris Schwalbach founded AVL Growth Partners in 2009 with the goal of addressing the lack of finance & accounting operations expertise available to passionate entrepreneurs, with a vision to bring the same level of expertise, passion, and focus as Cooley, LLP did in legal services and Silicon Valley Bank did in banking. Chris has helped numerous AVL client companies including SaaS, Medical Device, Services, and Digital Media with setup, capital raises, growth strategies, planning, and execution. As managing partner, Chris leads the company’s growth and expansion with AVL having served over 250 high growth companies in over 15 states and internationally. He is focused on building and developing a team of outstanding professionals, crafting a unique and engaging culture in our space, and contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystems in our target markets.

Prior to founding AVL, Chris, an entrepreneur himself, was a “first five employee” and CFO for several angel and venture backed start-ups where he led multiple debt and equity transactions. He also owned, operated, and sold a multi-million dollar manufacturing company and has held various finance leadership roles at multiple corporations including StorageTek and Arthur Andersen (Audit and Business Consulting practices).

Heralding from Wisconsin, Chris obtained dual bachelor degrees in both Accounting and Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later earned his MBA from the University of Michigan where he was awarded a full ride Dean’s List Scholarship.

Megan Schuler

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Director of Operations

As the Director of Operations, Megan Schuler leads the internal team managing the day-to-day operations of AVL Growth. Her work at AVL runs the gamut; whether it is attracting new leads, overseeing marketing and HR/talent acquisition, matching ideal staff to clients, or managing the customer relationship from contract to completed work, it’s hard to find something that Megan isn’t involved with. Over the last three plus years, Megan has helped spearhead successful efforts to scale AVL nationally while still maintaining its distinctive entrepreneurial spirit and personal touch.

Prior to joining AVL, Megan worked in marketing, business development, and operations. Formerly a small business owner, her experience in a variety of business roles and across a range of industries make her an invaluable resource for the AVL team.

Megan studied economics at Vassar college and has lived in Colorado for over 20 years. She currently resides in Louisville with her husband and three kids.

Austin

Kurt Gruner

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Principal

Kurt is a seasoned financial executive with over 20 years of finance and operations experience, having served in both finance and consulting roles during his career. Prior to joining AVL, Kurt held a number of financial leadership positions including Corporate Controller, Treasurer, Vice President of Finance and CFO, primarily with start-up and emerging growth technology companies. In these environments he has led accounting and treasury operations, system migrations, investor relations, facilitated due diligence and acquisition integration, built financial plans and created capital structures for early stage. He completed several acquisitions and oversaw multiple debt and equity transactions.

Kurt received a BA in English and Economics from Indiana University and an MBA in Finance from Bowling Green State University.

Clark Knopik

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Principal

Clark is a financial consultant with over 20 years of experience, focusing on start-up to mid-sized companies, with extensive experience in M&A, divestitures, financial planning and forecasting, internal controls, and financial reporting, from fundraising stages to extensive SEC experience. Clark began his career with KPMG in Anchorage, AK in the assurance department. The following years were spent working in various roles in the telecommunications and software industries in Austin’s “Tech Boom”. The last 12 years has been in consulting, with a wide variety of experience, ranging from IT system conversions, to forensic accounting review, to fractional financial services. AVL clientele ranges from companies in technology and tech enabled devices, video and virtual reality gaming, and retail.

Clark lives in the Austin area, with his wife and 2 children. He enjoys riding bicycles, brewing beer, and reads anything from war history, to suspense novels.

Clark is a CPA, and is a graduate of Montana State University, with a Bachelors of Science in Accounting.

Felipe Vega

Felipe Vega

Partner

Over the past 15+ years, Felipe has worked with a wide variety of early stage and high growth companies as a CFO/Controller consultant. More recently, Felipe has focused on guiding food, beverage and CPG companies because he has found a great passion in helping these companies get these products to market and for helping them scale their business operations. Felipe earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Texas State University – San Marcos.

Denver/Boulder

Jen Almquist

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VP of Finance

Jennifer Almquist is a CPA and VPF, with more than 15 years of finance, accounting and financial communications experience. Jennifer joined AVL Growth Partners in 2016 and provides VPF services to early stage businesses in need of seasoned finance and accounting expertise with an eye for stakeholder engagement. In 2010, she founded her own finance, accounting and communications consulting firm where, among other things, she assisted businesses ranging in size from start-up to mid-cap public companies covering interim VP-level accounting and investor relations roles, advised on departmental structure and post-acquisition integration, provided financial reporting and technical accounting assistance, and project-managed financial systems implementations. Prior to Ivy Street Advisory, Jen served in various investor relations and financial reporting roles at Crocs, TeleTech, StarTek and Coors. Jennifer began her career as an auditor in the Denver office of Deloitte and Touche.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is an actively licensed CPA in the State of Colorado and serves on the board of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute.

Heidi Anderson

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Principal

Heidi Anderson is a seasoned entrepreneur and CFO, with over 20 years of finance and operations experience. As a Principal in AVL Growth Partners, Heidi provides CFO services to high trajectory businesses primarily in services, real estate, franchising and technology markets. Prior to joining AVL, Heidi was the CFO at Club Holdings, LLC and all subsidiaries, as well as the COO of their largest subsidiary, Quintess and was a co-founder and CFO of 10 til 2, a staffing business that grew over time until it was franchised in 10 states. Heidi also previously worked in the auditing and consulting groups at KPMG, LLLP and EKS&H, LLLP.

Heidi received a degree in Professional Accountancy from the Pennsylvania State University and has been a Colorado Certified Public Accountant for over 20 years. Heidi has served as Treasurer for a number of non-profit boards during her career including Sewall Child Development Center and The Chanda Plan Foundation.

Steffany Ayala

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VP of Finance

Prior to joining AVL, Steffany worked as a Senior Financial Reporting Accountant with an international civil engineering company (annual revenue – $1.5B). During her time there, she was the internal point-person for the external audit. She was able to reduce monthly reporting time by over ten hours through process improvement initiatives and automation of processes. Prior to that role, Steffany was a Cost Accountant with WhiteWave Foods (gross sales – $2.2B). In that role, she was responsible for reporting on monthly inventory balances in five company-owned plants, as well as 30+ co-packers with the parent and sister companies. She also spent two years with WhiteWave as a Trade Accounting Analyst in their Accounts Receivable department.

Steffany received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting (minor in Health Care Management) from Metropolitan State University of Colorado, and went on to become a Certified Public Accountant.

Corey Bohler

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Principal

Corey has spent over 15 years in Financial Planning & Analysis leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies such as Baxter Healthcare and Western Union Corporation as well as privately held, Leprino Foods. He has successfully led enterprise-wide financial process and improvement programs spanning the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has a wide range of experience within international strategy including financial operations on location in Vienna, Austria.
Corey’s financial leadership experience encompasses Strategy, Sales and Marketing, New Product Development, Manufacturing and Supply Chain. Industry experience includes Medical Devices, Biopharm, Financial Services, Food Production, and general Manufacturing. Corey also holds a patent titled “Money Transfer Systems and Methods” which outlines a complete customer-focused redesign of the walk-in retail money transfer engagement process.

Mark Buckley

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Principal

Mark has 20 years of financial management experience. He began his career at Deloitte, auditing companies in the technology and manufacturing industries, and Deloitte CRG, a consulting firm focused on operational restructuring and mergers & acquisitions for companies ranging from $100 million to $1 billion in revenue. After moving to Denver in 2002, Mark moved to Republic Financial, working on a deal team acquiring and operating underperforming businesses with $10-300 million in revenue. Mark became the CFO at Cherry Creek Tree Farms, a retail and wholesale commercial nursery and grower, where he helped triple revenue in three years. At Renewable Choice and Mosaic Labs, Mark created a finance group with full internal audit, FP&A and reporting capabilities with five years of audited financials and also co-lead capital raises of equity, venture debt, and convertible debt while growing the top line nearly 800%. Since 2012, Mark has been the CFO at Pangea Organics marshalling the company through a complete transition in business model from traditional retail to e-commerce / direct-to-consumer and building a finance and operations team in the process.

As a Principal at AVL, Mark spent the last 2 years providing CFO services to over a dozen high-growth clients within the CPG practice, specifically food. From helping to establish systems, processes, reporting, and operational gains to supporting and leading capital raises and strategic planning, Mark has helped several companies reach their next stages of evolution and build towards scalability.

Mark graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in mathematical economics and philosophy.

Denise Cavaleri

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VP of Finance

Denise Cavaleri has 22 years of experience in Corporate Accounting and Financial Management. At AVL Growth Partners, Denise has spent the past 2 years providing VP of Finance services to over 12 high trajectory businesses, in various industries, including: wholesale, retail, software/hardware, SaaS, and cannabis. Prior to joining AVL, Mrs. Cavaleri held the position of Chief Financial Officer for GetAds and Native Rank. Her previous experience includes finance leadership roles at Only Natural Pet Store/NatPets, All Copy Products, and The Boppy Company.

Denise graduated from Regis University with a MBA in Accounting/Finance and Cornell College with a BA in Economics and International Business.

Nicole Collette

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Principal

Nicole Collette is an experienced finance and operations executive, supporting and leading companies on a trajectory of growth, profitability and change. She has a proven record of success in e-commerce, consumer goods, technology and natural products companies, driving business results while building strong team relationships. As a Principal at AVL Growth Partners, Nicole has provided CFO leadership services to almost 10 high trajectory businesses in the last year, including PopSockets, Guild Education, 40 North Foods and Hope Foods. Prior to joining AVL, Nicole was the Senior Director of Finance at one of the most rapidly growing e-commerce companies, The RealReal, the leader in online luxury resale, completing multiple funding rounds, totaling $80M. She has extensive experience in equity/debt financings, strategic planning, revenue/pricing optimization, fundraising, sales operations and new product launches.

Nicole is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, where she majored in International Management and Finance, followed later by California State University Sacramento, earning an MBA. In her free time, she enjoys fitness, interior design, travel and just about every outdoor activity Colorado offers.

Rich Frankenheimer

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Partner

Rich Frankenheimer is a seasoned entrepreneur and CFO, with over 25 years of finance and operations experience. As a Partner in AVL Growth Partners, Rich has spent the past 4 years providing CFO services to over 30 high trajectory businesses, supporting 25+ rounds of equity/debt financings primarily in the technology, SaaS and manufacturing markets. Prior to joining AVL, Rich was the co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of touchPoint Partners, an angel capital funded impact marketing firm focused on Corporate Social Responsibility. Rich was also the CFO of SimAuthor Inc., a venture capital funded, software technology and services company, where he helped lead the company from start-up through successful acquisition. Rich co-founded and served as CFO for ClassiFACTS, Inc., a venture capital funded information technology company and has been the CFO/COO of several other early stage ventures.

Rich received a degree in Economics from the University of Colorado and is an advisor and director on a number of for-profit and non-profit boards.

Heidi Huntington

Heidi Huntington

VP of Finance

Heidi has over 17 years of experience in accounting and has worked with companies in various industries including: high tech start ups, software, venture capital, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, nonprofit, professional services and the investment banking sector. Prior to joining AVL, Heidi was the Director of Virtual Business Solutions at Anton Collins Mitchell after merging her own accounting practice, founded in 2000, with ACM. Her practice provided small and midsized companies with full cycle accounting services, financial reporting metrics, human resources support, operations structures and best practice solutions. 


Since joining AVL Heidi supports 8 clients with KPI metrics and reporting, strategic modeling to support long term goals and other key initiatives, compensation and incentive planning, cash flow reporting and forecasting, revenue growth planning and debt and equity round support.

Heidi graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in Accounting and Finance as well as an emphasis in communications. Philanthropy and community are an important part of Heidi’ life. She is also an avid runner, enjoys traveling, skiing and photography.

Mike Kitson

Mike Kitson

Principal

Mike joined AVL Growth Partners in 2017 and brings more than 25 years of financial and operational leadership in private equity-backed companies, start-ups and publicly held companies.

Mike’s senior leadership experience includes CFO and CEO roles with Utilimaster Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Mike led the organization through significant revenue and profit growth culminating in the sale to Spartan Motors. Mike also served as CFO, and later CEO, of Nautic Global Group, a large manufacturer of recreational powerboats. Mike’s experience also includes financial management positions with publicly held companies, including Lilly Industries, a manufacturer of industrial coatings, and Regency Electronics, a manufacturer of consumer electronics. He started his career with EY (formerly Ernst & Whinney).

Mike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Patrick Industries (PATK), a publicly held major manufacturer of components for the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries.

Mike has a BS in Accounting from Ball State University an MBA from Butler University and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). Mike enjoys all aspects of Colorado’s outdoor life, in particular bicycling.

Anne Kreider

Anne Kreider Linked In

VP of Finance

Anne is a VP of Finance with AVL and has over 20 years of financial leadership experience. During her four years at AVL she has managed financial accounting and reporting, forecasting and strategic planning, management dashboard reporting, regulatory compliance, treasury management, support on debt and equity rounds, and tax and audit support to over 15 clients across various industries.

Prior to joining AVL, Anne was the Chief Financial Officer for a small commercial real estate firm and before that she spent five years with OpenTV, an international software company in the digital TV space, where she served as the Americas Controller and later as the Senior Director of the Program Management Office where she oversaw the financial and operational management of the company’s software development projects. Anne was also a Finance Manager at the McGraw-Hill Companies responsible for financial reporting and analysis, forecasting, and budgeting. In addition, Anne held various financial roles at Qwest Communications and before that she was an auditor for Arthur Andersen. Anne holds a Bachelors degree in Accounting from Virginia Tech and an inactive CPA license with the state of Virginia.

Simon Le Couteur

Simon Le Couteur Linked In

VP of Finance

Simon started his career at Arthur Andersen and has since gained a broad range of experience working as controller for companies in technology, design, and marketing. Prior to joining AVL Growth Partners he was director at Platts, McGraw Hill managing the finances for a $125M business unit. Simon enjoys rolling up his sleeves and managing the accounting function while providing business partners with reliable intelligence to make strategic decisions and drive profitability.

Simon received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Auckland and is a CPA / Chartered Accountant (NZICA). Originally from New Zealand he loves the outdoors, climbing, biking and skiing.

Jim Nollsch

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Principal

Jim is a strong finance and operations leader with a successful track record in executing mergers & acquisitions and facilitating organizational change. Prior to joining AVL, Jim served as CFO of high growth technology company Tectonic LLC ,where he executed four acquisitions over 24 months and was instrumental in raising the equity and debt capital to support the transactions. Jim also was an investment banker with FMI, where he performed buy-side and sell-side M&A in addition to succession planning. Jim also has a strong product and operations background, holding executive roles in product management, strategy, and operations in the technology industry with eCollege, McDATA, and as a management consultant with Everest Group.

Jim has a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

John Rose

John Rose Linked In

Partner

At AVL, John serves / has served as CFO of many consumer/CPG, Healthcare, technology, and natural products companies. Prior to joining AVL Growth Partners, he was the CFO at Yasso, Inc., a CPG company selling frozen novelties across the US. Prior to Yasso, John worked for both Overall Capital and Brook Venture Partners as an integral part of small venture capital investment teams, completing upwards of $100 million of investments across 20+ different technology, medical technology, consumer, services, and e-commerce businesses. While at Overall, he also led the financial function for portfolio company Iperia, Inc., a mobile tech. platform provider which was sold to Genband.
John is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he majored in Finance and Operations Management. He also serves as an Advisor to RxGreen Solutions, is a mentor at Canopy Boulder, and is involved with a handful of other start-up companies in various roles.

John’s free time is filled with outdoor adventures (skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc.), coaching lacrosse, and spending time with his amazing wife Kari and dog Renfro.

Chris Scherpenseel

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Principal

Chris has over 20 years experience helping start-ups and mid-market companies grow and build value. He has considerable experience in business planning, process improvement and increasing financial performance. Prior to AVL, Chris held executive management roles for Customer Insight Company and Transworld Technologies Inc. As a former COO and CFO, Chris has raised in excess of $15 million for early stage companies and business ventures.

Chris was also CEO of FRx Software Corporation, a Microsoft subsidiary. FRx was a leading provider of financial reporting and business intelligence applications for the mid-market. Chris led the company through significant revenue and profitability growth; culminating in the sale to Great Plains Software (Microsoft) for $75 million.

Today at AVL Growth Partners, Chris works with fast growing entrepreneurial businesses needing CFO expertise to raise capital and build scalable financial processes. His current list of clients span a wide range of industries including: software (SaaS), IT consulting, aerospace engineering and international PEO services.

Chris is a licensed CPA and member of the Colorado Society of CPAs and American Institute of CPAs. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s in Finance from Colorado State University.

Brian Williams

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Principal

Brian brings 25+ years of CFO and Board experience working with venture backed, early stage and growth oriented businesses in the Technology, Life Science and Clean Tech markets. As a Principal with AVL, Brian is currently supporting six early stage AVL clients who have successfully closed eight venture rounds, and recently facilitated the sale of a Life Science client to a publicly traded company. Prior to joining AVL in 2015, Brian ran a successful consulting practice providing strategic and capital formation advisory services to growth-driven businesses. In addition to his work with AVL, Brian actively serves as a mentor to new entrepreneurs, was twice selected Mentor of the Year, and has worked with numerous founders of Galvanize, Tech Stars, Founder Institute and other accelerator companies.

Brian is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Certified Public Accountant who began his career with Ernst & Young.

Rachel Williams

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Principal

Rachel is an accomplished executive with over 18 years of hands-on finance and operations experience working for both large corporations and early-stage companies. She is passionate about working with entrepreneurs and for the past 5 years she has been working with early stage companies to execute on strategic vision and build value.

Rachel has experience across a broad range of industries with a more recent focus on technology companies including software as a service, e-commerce, mobile applications, technology service businesses, and IAAS. She is also an entrepreneur and founded a mobile application/SAAS company, Wigot. As a CFO, she has raised equity and debt financing in excess of $620M, overseen portfolios and businesses with assets over $1B, managed operating budgets of more than $100M, and has worked on both the buy and sell side of M&A transactions.

Rachel has a BA in Political Science and an MBA from Baylor University and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). She has worked as an adjunct professor where she taught accounting and finance to both MBA students and executives. In addition to professional commitments, volunteers and supports Touch A Life Foundation, an organization which rescues and rehabilitates formerly trafficked children in Ghana and has served on the Advisory Boards of both for profit and non-profit organizations.



AVL Staff

Charles Abernathy

Charles Abernathy

Austin
Annette Ball

Annette Ball

Denver/Boulder
Jim Barnocky

Jim Barnocky

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Lisa Castillo

Lisa Castillo

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Kim Handy

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Ichuan Hung

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Stephanie Means

Stephanie Means

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