For Dick Banks, accepting the position of president and COO of Mercy Housing in Denver was like a homecoming. His first-ever job in the multifamily industry was as an apartment salesman for CB Commercial in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood, and his new role with Mercy has brought him back to family and friends he had left behind. He started in this position–his first at a nonprofit–in September 2006 and previously was COO for a 70,000-unit portfolio that Goldman Sachs and Cerberus owned in Germany. Banks has a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Southern California and a master's in international finance from Thunderbird in Phoenix.

Dick Banks
Dick Banks

Q: What appealed to you about this job?

A: It's the work that Mercy Housing does. I find Mercy probably gives back to more communities they're involved with than any other developer I've ever seen–even many nonprofits. They tend to get critically involved at the resident level for needy families and individuals, and they go beyond basic shelter to job skills.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

A: It's not a secret that the need for affordable housing is growing every year. You put that under pressure with continually restricted funds ... and less land to develop on, and the economics of affordable deals at the asset level is not very attractive–you've got very low rents and the costs of resident services programs. ... I think we're kind of going, as an industry, in the wrong direction. We need to figure out a business plan that marries government and the private sector with the nonprofit sectors to really tackle this problem of affordable housing.

Q: What do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming year?

A: How do we as a nation, and we as an industry, help the affordable class? The housing prices in every major city continue to go up faster than the increase in wages, and a larger portion of our population is left without a housing option.

Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you about your career?

A: I can't remember who said it, but it's, "There are no shortcuts." It's running a marathon versus a sprint. You have to understand the details to do well on the macro level, whether it's in sales or operations or asset management and development. There are so many facets of expertise in the real estate business ... and so many levels to think about that you almost always have to draw on your past to make an informed decision.

Marina Dikos has been appointed vice president and corporate controller of GMH Communities Trust. She will oversee management of the firm's accounting and reporting processes. Dikos, who has 15 years of public accounting experience, previously was a senior manager at KPMG.

Robert R. Kilroy
Robert R. Kilroy

LCOR has named Robert R. Kilroy senior vice president, a role in which he will oversee the firm's property acquisitions program and consider new product opportunities for the company. Previously, Kilroy was a senior investment officer for Fidelity Investments' real estate group. Barrett Kirk has joined Asset Plus Cos. as an investment analyst and asset manager. Previously, he was a senior portfolio manager at KeyBank Real Estate Capital.

BSB Architects and Planners has named five new partners among its regional offices: Dave Copenhaver in the Southern office; Robert M. Eyrich and Daniel F. O'Malley in the Chicago office; Chris Jorgensen in the Central office; and Brad Sonnenburg in the Southwestern office. All five have been with the firm for more than 10 years.

Ruth Garcia

Ruth Garcia has been promoted to project coordinator at Urban Pacific Builders, where she will work with the firm's project managers on the marketing and internal management of several urban loft housing projects. Michael Ohara and Scott Higa will head up KTGY Group's new Denver office, which opened earlier this year. Ohara, who is principal and director of residential design, previously was associate principal for JG Johnson Architects. Higa, the firm's principal and director of retail, most recently served as a managing principal with MCG Architecture.

Michael A. Ernst
Michael A. Ernst

United Dominion Realty Trust has added three executives to its senior management team. Michael A. Ernst has joined the company as executive vice president, treasurer, and chief financial officer; previously, he was executive vice president and CFO of Prentiss Properties Trust. Mark Culwell has been named senior vice president, development; previously, he was regional vice president of development for Gables Residential. And Doug Walker has joined the firm as senior vice president, development, building on his expertise as a consultant to the multifamily industry; previously, he was president of Harwood Pacific and Harwood Management.

Mark Culwell
Mark Culwell

Darcy R. Garneau has been named vice president of development for Legacy Partners' Seattle office. In this role, she will be responsible for developing new multifamily projects in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Previously, she was managing principal of EDI Architecture.

Kim Atkinson
Kim Atkinson

Kim Atkinson has joined Mark-Taylor Residential as director of marketing and will be responsible for helping the company expand its third-party management business as well as marketing new communities for the firm. Prior to joining Mark-Taylor, Atkinson was marketing communications director at Cold Stone Creamery. Tom Velken has been promoted to senior vice president-real estate at 1031 Exchange Options. He has been with the company since 2003.

Livia Bourque has been named compliance manager of ALCO Management, where she will be responsible for oversight of regulatory compliance among ALCO communities and for standardizing other policies and procedures throughout the company. FitzGerald Associates Architects has added five architects to its staff: Scott MacDonald, formerly with Habitat for Humanity; Sean O'Gorman, formerly with Westridge Builders; Shannon Sterne, a former intern with FitzGerald; Evan Watson, formerly with B.A. Taylor & Associates; and Yehoshuah Yehudah, formerly with Form and Funktion.

Brian Alexander
Brian Alexander

Brian Alexander has been promoted to Western regional marketing director for SureDeposit and will direct the company's Phoenix office. Previously, he was a regional account manager for the firm. Send your promotions and new hire news to mfepeople@hanleywood.com.