Meet the Team
Our team is our strength. With skills rooted in activism and proven in traditional business, our team offers you unparalleled experience in legal cannabis.
Philip A. Valvardi, CEO and Managing Partner
Phil Valvardi joined the Highroad team in 2018. Phil has spent most of his career leading innovative businesses within the highly regulated financial services industry. Phil was most recently the CFO at GlobeOne, a financial technology company developing a mobile financial platform. He previously served as General Manager of the Prepaid Solutions business at Fiserv and CEO of Maverick Network Solutions, a company acquired by Fiserv. Phil also served as President of the MAC Network, one of the largest debit networks in the U.S. He also held executive positions in the payments and financial divisions of CoreStates Financial Corp., now part of Wells Fargo Bank. When not at work, Phil spends his free time with his family and in a variety of health and fitness activities.
20 years of executive experience
BA, Saint Joseph's University
MBA, Drexel University
Board member, Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University
Greta Carter, Founder and Partner
When it comes to building a new business empire in the cannabis industry, there are no hands more experienced or accomplished than Greta Carter’s. Beginning her professional management career in traditional business with a 15-year stint in the highly regulated world of banking, Greta successfully launched multiple start-up businesses and managed projects with budgets often exceeding $80 million. Always seeking greater personal challenges, however, Greta resigned her position as a Vice President of Citibank (after 19 years with the company) to found and build her own multi-million-dollar real estate based business in Jacksonville, FL. It was only after achieving personal professional success in the conventional business world that Greta was drawn to the challenge and activism of the marijuana industry in the mid 2000’s.
Beginning her cannabis career as a prominent activist for intelligent marijuana regulation, Greta founded the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, Washington’s oldest marijuana trade organization and the industry authority that the State of Washington turned to for feedback and advice when drafting its recreational cannabis use regulations. Greta was also personally instrumental in the drafting of the City of Seattle’s medical marijuana ordinance, and in the drafting of Washington’s outdoor cultivation regulations. Beyond her political contributions to the industry, Greta has directly built and managed multiple medical and recreational marijuana businesses as well. She built and managed The Hope Clinics, a chain of Washington medical clinics that served over 32,000 patients in just 4 years. She also founded and managed one of Washington’s most successful recreational cannabis cultivation facilities, one of the top selling cultivators by sales volume during her tenure. She has also been a guest speaker at multiple major cannabis industry trade shows, been the project manager of teams that have won over a dozen state marijuana licenses, is currently overseeing approximately $40M in cannabis startup businesses, and developing certification courses with the College of the Desert in California, and UCANNTECH in Colorado. These are just a few of many notable accomplishments.
Ryan Fingerhut J.D. (FSU), Partner and Director of Business Development
Ryan Fingerhut is an attorney who has devoted himself full time to the cannabis industry since 2014. Though he provides clients the services of a business consultant rather than a lawyer, Ryan brings the disciplines of an attorney along with years of experience in cannabis administrative law and compliance to the Highroad Consulting Group’s Licensing and Compliance division. After years of consistently demonstrating his passion and ambition for achievement, Ryan now plays key roles as a Director and Partner of Highroad. Ryan has a 100% track record in licensing and compliance, with over 60 local and State cannabis licenses won in 4 different states and with a perfect compliance track record for all businesses whose compliance regiments Ryan actively oversaw. Having participated directly in the management of several cannabis businesses, Ryan brings his expertise in cannabis regulation and couples it with good business sense, creating what he calls “Value Added Compliance”. Not content to simply get our clients licensed or keep them from receiving fines and suspensions, Ryan is constantly looking for ways to meet compliance needs while lowering overhead and finding ways to ensure compliance has a minimal impact on productivity. Where most consultants see compliance as a list of requirements to meet, Ryan works hard to incorporate compliance into everyday business functions as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.
Simone Sandoval, Partner and Director of Licensing and Compliance
Simone manages the licensing and compliance program for Highroad clients. She is a Coachella Valley native. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with B.A. in Political Science she moved to Washington, D.C. where she became the first legal intern for Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D (CA-36). During her time on the Hill she worked on legislation addressing sexual assault within the military, counseled clients within the immigrant community to protect their eligibility rights under the Deferred Action for Child Arrival (DACA), and researched policy on renewable energy, healthcare, and tribal relations. While attending law school at American University’s Washington College of Law she found her passion for intellectual property, specifically advancing open source software efforts. After interning as a legal researcher at the world organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, she decided to return home to the Coachella Valley. Simone’s personal support of advancing cannabis reform to bring better opportunities to the disenfranchised communities in the Coachella Valley led her to her professional involvement with Highroad. She loves her job and enjoys working on all the minutiae involved in helping businesses obtain cannabis licensing. You can find Simone anywhere live music is playing in the Coachella Valley.
BA, Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
JD, Washington College of Law, American University
Richard Cromwell, Director of Technology and Security
Richard delivers security and technology solutions to clients. For over thirteen years, he has designed and managed network topographies of all sizes, from multi-server VM environments with locally hosted Exchange to antiquated desktop setups. Over the last two years Richard oversaw the design and buildout of 4 cannabis facilities. This included everything from network engineering/management, security design/management for security camera, burglar alarm, and access control systems to configuring automated hydration and lighting systems, along with green house shading automation and temperature control. He is the staff expert in track-and-trace software/server management and fire alarm coordination. Richard is familiar with technology needs in a variety of industries; from cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and retail facilities to hotels, country clubs, car dealerships, and healthcare providers. A Coachella Valley local, Richard is very familiar with the close community and shares the affinity for working together to grow.
14+ years of information technology experience
Alicia Schultz, Client Relations Manager
Alicia Schultz uses her background in biochemistry to deliver expert compliance advice and service to clients. She moved to Palm Desert from Pasadena, pursuing her Degree in Biochemistry. Alicia is passionate about cannabis and health. Grateful for an amazing group of clients and colleagues, Alicia makes sure that all new and returning clients are welcomed in a way that has become the standard for Highroad and the industry.
BS, Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine
Cheryl King, Controller
Cheryl delivers expert finance work to clients. She worked as Controller for Pala Casino for six years. Cheryl now executes all areas of finance and administration for Highroad and for clients including: payroll, accounts payable and receivables, job costing, cash management, general ledger, inventory, banking and reconciliations. She provides strategic analyses for senior management to determine project and company profitability, prepare quarterly financial statements and special reports required by lenders, develop company policies and procedures including writing and maintaining the Operations Manual and Employee Handbook and ensure compliance with small business regulations, tax laws, insurance requirements and industry standards.
12 years of accounting and finance experience
Masters, Business Economics, San Diego State University
Dwayne Alicie, Marketing Manager
Dwayne brings ten years of integrated marketing communications and operations experience to Highroad clients. He lives to connect people to things that make their lives better -- including cannabis. Dwayne lived in the Bay Area for fourteen years and worked in marketing with small social justice organizations and a Fortune 500 company in the business-to-business technology sector. Now he is happy to make the Southern California desert his home, where the coyotes and sunsets inspire creativity, while freedom from distractions of the city allows him to manage client projects and design marketing plans.
10 years of marketing experience
3 years of English Literature coursework, University of Virginia
BS, Business Administration - Marketing, cum laude, San Francisco State University
Carina Romero-Castro, Legal Analyst
Carina leverages legal education and experience to support Highroad client projects. She is passionate about cannabis because she recognizes its healing properties and potential to boost local economies. After graduating from studies in criminal justice and earning her Paralegal Certificate, she interned at the Riverside County Counsel’s Office. She brings customer service expertise and fresh creativity to the Highroad team.
BA Criminal Justice, California State University, San Bernardino
Paralegal Certificate from ABA Accredited University of California, Riverside
Ivy Bader, Legal Analyst
Ivy brings cannabis cultivation and law expertise to her work with clients at Highroad. She began working for a cannabis collective in 2014, where she learned how to cultivate from Cultivation Operations Managers that had over 40 combined years of growing. She fell in love with cultivation and became grow operations manager and compliance manager at a local microbusiness before coming to Highroad. Prior to that, Ivy graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay with a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Communications with a double concentration in Writing and Rhetoric and Pre-law. She graduated with Distinction for creating a group that met once a week to tackle the problem of rising campus sexual assault. She went on to get her Master’s degree at Monterey College of Law and is a certified mediator through the Monterey County Community Justice Center.
BS, Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Communications, Concentrations: Writing and Rhetoric, Pre-law; Distinction
MLS, Monterey College of Law
Mahlet Yared, Legal Analyst
Mahlet brings her legal education and passion for holistic healing to her work for clients at Highroad. A Bay Area native, Mahlet moved to the windy city to pursue her undergraduate degree, where she developed a passion for legal research and business development. After graduating, she returned to the Bay Area and worked as a High School Director at the Boys and Girls Club, where she coordinated after-school programming, counseled students one-on-one, and led a six-week apprenticeship in partnership with LinkedIn. While in law school, she interned with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice, and Department of State to develop a better understanding of federal, state, and international regulations. When she’s not navigating cannabis regulations, Mahlet enjoys working out and creating plant-based recipes in her kitchen.
BA, Political Science, University of Chicago
JD, The George Washington University Law School