People

Meet our team of curious entrepreneurs.

Dillon Baynes
Co-Founder, Managing Partner

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Dillon Baynes
Co-Founder, Managing Partner

“This talented team of individuals delivers incredible value for our partners, residents and tenants. I’m very fortunate to be working with them” observes Baynes, a lifelong entrepreneur who founded the company with his Columbia partners in 2013. With a diversity of commercial real estate experience outside affordable housing, he establishes markets and opportunities for the company, overseeing development activity and also focuses on the human aspect of Columbia Ventures. His early career in hospitality informs his approach to community development today, seeking to delight and attract new stakeholders to Columbia Ventures projects while maintaining the fabric and ties into the existing neighborhood. “The ultimate compliment we receive is that we have created a great place”, he notes. Baynes graduated from Georgetown University and splits time between Atlanta and Savannah.

Jake Von Trapp
Co-Founder, Partner

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Jake Von Trapp
Co-Founder, Partner

Jake is primarily responsible for the successful operations of Columbia Ventures as well as for strategic and financial planning for the company. This extends down to the project level and includes fostering and maintaining relationships with the capital markets to ensure alignment and liquidity in project capitalization, recapitalization and investment disposition. Jake is on the Columbia Ventures Investment Committee.

Jake grew up in Charlotte, Vermont and met his wife, Betsy, while attending Boston College where he earned a BS in Finance. Jake also holds a Certificate in Real Estate Finance from Boston University and a Masters in Real Estate Development (MSRED) from the MIT Center for Real Estate. Jake lives in Savannah, Georgia with his wife and three children and enjoys distance running in his free time.

Jim Grauley
Co-Founder, Partner

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Jim Grauley
Co-Founder, Partner

Jim Grauley is a founding Partner and Investment Committee member of Columbia Ventures. He is the President and Chief Operating Officer for Columbia Residential, managing development, finance, asset management, and corporate operations.

Jim brings more than 20 years of experience in the successful urban development of 15,000+ housing units throughout the U.S. Since joining the Columbia family in 2008, Jim has led the development of more than 2,000 affordable and mixed-income multifamily units in Georgia and Louisiana. His commitment to purpose-built, sustainable revitalization has resulted in numerous LEED® and EarthCraft distinctions and the industry’s most coveted awards, including the ULI Award of Excellence, NAHB Pillars of the Industry, and the Edson Award of Excellence.

Josh Thigpen
Senior Development Manager, Partner

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Josh Thigpen
Senior Development Manager, Partner

As a true cradle-to-grave development manager, there are very few aspects of a project that Josh is not responsible for. From feasibility, financing, and design through construction, closeout, and transition — Josh takes pride in executing at the highest level on every Columbia Ventures deal via a hands-on approach. With an extensive construction and design background, he also enjoys mentoring the broader team and supporting much of the Columbia Ventures pipeline.

Josh is one of those rare Atlanta natives, while currently residing with his wife and three boys in Cobb County. He holds an undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech and a graduate degree from George Washington University. When not working, you will find Josh and the Thigpen family either camping, hiking, beaching, or generally just traveling.

Projects include:
Spoke
Decatur East
Studioplex Alley
Beacon Station
Quill
Edgewood Park
Citizen

Ryan Akin
Development Manager, Partner

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Ryan Akin
Development Manager, Partner

Ryan is responsible for the end-to-end management of the development lifecycle for multiple Columbia Ventures projects, from acquisition through disposition. This includes, in close collaboration with the Columbia Ventures team, the assembly and orchestration of the professionals for due diligence, design, financing, construction, marketing, and property management while serving in whatever capacity is necessary along the way.

Ryan grew up in Florida and holds degrees from the University of Florida (BSME) and Georgia Tech (MSME). He is a graduate of the 2023 class of the ULI Atlanta Center for Leadership and holds a certificate in Commercial Real Estate Finance and Development from MIT. Ryan and his family live in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta. He serves on the board of Noble Clay Fitness, a local non-profit gym. Ryan enjoys learning new skills, building relationships, adding value through driving processes, financial modeling, and collaborating with experts in their respective fields throughout each project lifecycle. Outside of the office he enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, getting outdoors, and playing lacrosse.

Projects include:
Pittsburgh Yards
Union Terminal Warehouse
Lennox on Park

Iván Anaya
President, Mountain West Region

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Iván Anaya
President, Mountain West Region

Iván is based in Denver, CO and serves as the Mountain West Market President. Iván’s primary focus as Market President is to expand the company’s investments, social impact, and physical footprint across Colorado and the Mountain West by leading the strategic vision, execution, and continued growth of Columbia Ventures’ portfolio within the region. Iván’s development experience is in mixed-use, multi-family, and community impact projects and is naturally drawn to Columbia Ventures’ integrity based entrepreneurial and innovative approach to transformative community development, be it affordable, missing middle, or market rate. Iván’s finance and capital markets background leads his collaborative, relationship-based approach to sustainable community building.

Iván grew up in Denver, CO and holds a Bachelor of Science: Business Administration, Finance degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He is civically engaged as a board member of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, Colorado Uplift, and the Sun Valley Eco-District Trust. Outside of work Iván enjoys cycling, hiking, camping, and snowboarding with his
partner Paulina and their dog Tachi.

Amy Pearce
Controller

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Amy Pearce
Controller

Amy is primarily responsible for the financial and business operations of Columbia Ventures. On top of the daily business transactions, she handles the financial reporting, budgeting and asset management functions for the entities in Columbia Ventures portfolio. She works to keep our online presence up to date via the website and social media. Amy  also provides support to partners and development managers along with maintaining outstanding vendor and investor relationships.

Amy is the newest team member at Columbia Ventures. She holds degrees in Accounting and Psychology from Georgia Southern University. She is a native Texan but has lived in Savannah for 7 years. Amy has three teenagers and one spoiled rotten fur baby. She enjoys traveling, food and playing tennis.

Ben Diaz
Development Manager

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Ben Diaz
Development Manager

Ben is responsible for the successful execution of market rate, select mixed-use, and custom commercial projects in the Mountain West Market in support of the Senior Development Manager.  With unique experience as an Architectural Designer, General Contractor, Owner-Representative, and Developer he utilizes these various perspectives for strategic execution of all project types.  He has successfully managed over $2B in large-scale development ranging from Hospitality, Residential, Retail, and Institutional projects.

Ben grew up in Silver Spring, MD and holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland. Since then, he has worked in various markets spanning from projects in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Miami, FL, and currently Denver, CO. He enjoys all activities outdoors, from hiking, camping, rock climbing, to snowboarding.

Auraria Campus – Residential & Mixed-Use Projects – Denver, CO

 

Mark Howard
Development Manager

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Mark Howard
Development Manager

Mark brings over 25 years of real estate experience in the Colorado market, with a proven track record in the development of nearly $700 million in ground-up projects. As Development Manager, Mark is responsible for the execution of community impact, mixed-income, and affordable housing projects throughout the Mountain West region. Mark’s primary responsibilities include overseeing design and entitlement, as well as managing construction. He is dedicated to developing and maintaining relationships with key partners throughout the project’s evolution to ensure its overall success.

Prior to joining Columbia Ventures, Mark served as the Director of Construction and Development for Alpine Investments, where he oversaw the construction of mid-rise and high-rise multifamily projects. He also spent nearly a decade with the Denver Housing Authority as the Manager of Construction and Senior Development, where he was involved in the development and construction of high-profile affordable and mixed-income projects. His master development experience includes the nationally recognized redevelopments of Denver’s Mariposa (14 acres) and Sun Valley (33 acres) neighborhoods.

Mark’s professional background also includes roles with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) and MDC Holdings. He holds an MBA with a concentration in Real Estate and a BBA in Finance from the University of Georgia. Mark has been a Colorado resident since 2000.

Projects Include:

Elevate Aurora
Viña Senior

Sam Torres
Development Associate

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Sam Torres
Development Associate

Sam reinforces the lead Development Manager on any given project, in any facet, all while building the foundations to grow within Columbia Ventures. He is passionate about establishing and nurturing positive relationships with vendors, as well as, repurposing his attention to detail for quality/efficiency that allows continued success for Columbia Ventures. Like the Marine he was, you’ll find him in the ‘’trenches’’ with every trade and profession throughout the development lifecycle.

Sam was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in low-income housing in south New Jersey, where in hindsight, now understands the importance of a strong community backbone. More recently, he has spent the last 11 years gaining wide-ranging, valuable industry experience and intrapersonal skills via mainly the hospitality and construction sectors. In his off time, Sam enjoys numerous interests and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt practitioner and enthusiast, a hobby attributed to expanding neuroplasticity and assisting in real world problem solving.

Projects include:

Citizen
Quill

Sam Joaquin
Development Associate

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Sam Joaquin
Development Associate

Sam supports the Development Manager in all phases of the real estate development lifecycle,
which includes management of relationships and scopes of work for various project
stakeholders and vendors. His background in the legal and construction industries gives him a
unique perspective when executing on project deliverables.

Sam graduated from Colby College, where he was a part of the men’s basketball team. He
recently moved to Atlanta from Boston, MA and has enjoyed exploring every thing the city has to
offer. He is excited to contribute to the building environment in the Southeast and make a positive
impact in the communities in which Columbia Ventures operates.

Projects include:
Union Terminal Warehouse

Markell Thomas
Assistant to the Controller

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Markell Thomas
Assistant to the Controller

Markell joined the Columbia Ventures team in October of 2023. Markell is responsible for assisting the Controller in the various daily business accounting activities of the company. He handles bank transactions and reconciliations, customer and vendor invoicing and financial reporting throughout the entities within the Columbia Venture portfolio.

Markell is a Georgia native and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from Savannah State University. When not spending time with his family, He enjoys traveling, writing, outdoor activities such as live shows, learning new things and enjoying life.

join our team
We’re always looking for the right person.
in loving memory of noel khalil, 1950 - 2021

Noel Khalil: Co-founder, Mentor

Noel founded Columbia Residential in 1991 on a foundation of excellence and commitment to integrity. We’re sincerely grateful for his years of leadership and honored to advance that legacy.