Senior Living in Olympia WA

Our Team

Take a minute to get aquainted with our team at Koelsch Communities.

Aaron Koelsch | President/CEO

Aaron Koelsch CEOAaron Koelsch

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Aaron Koelsch is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Koelsch Communities. With over 30 years of senior living experience, Mr. Koelsch was inspired to build a company whose common purpose is to create happiness in the lives of its residents and their families by providing an unmatched living experience.

Combining a lifelong history in the senior living industry, a vision for unified operations, and a passion for service, Mr. Koelsch was moved to create Koelsch Communities in 1988. With an unrivaled commitment to each resident’s quality of life, he continues to craft breathtaking communities that offer unparalleled services and care practices to their residents.

Aaron’s vast senior living experience has truly been lifelong. It all started with his parents raising him in the basement of their small nursing home in Kelso, Washington, which they opened in 1958. Since then, Aaron has developed & built over 30 senior housing communities in 8 states, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care, and is proud that each was built to serve a greater regional need. He remains closely involved in every aspect community operations and development, utilizing his own construction company, Koelsch Construction, as general contractor, which has built over 5 million square feet of senior housing since it’s founding in the mid-1980’s.

Aaron continues to set the example for Koelsch Communities, both in culture and business. He founded Koelsch Communities with his parent’s values as cornerstones of Koelsch culture and is committed to upholding their values throughout the company.

Today, Aaron leads Koelsch Communities in continual growth, with numerous senior housing communities currently in development and under construction with an emerging focus on multi-family markets. He has received numerous awards and accolades for Koelsch Communities quality of service. Aaron graduated from Walla Walla University in Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. He and his wife Judy live in Olympia, Washington, and have four children. 

Dennis Christianson | Chief Financial Officer

Dennis Christianson CFODennis Christianson

Chief Financial Officer

Dennis has served as Koelsch Communities top financial officer since 2010.

Dennis provides oversight of all Koelsch financial records and resources and monitors financial management throughout the Koelsch Communities.

As CFO, Dennis works with the CEO and the development team to provide acute financial analysis of all current and future communities and new construction efforts. Deeply valued for his relationship-building nature, problem-solving mechanics, and fiscal insights. Dennis keeps a financial equilibrium between internal and external economic components. He fosters winning relationships with banks, lenders, and large-scale real estate partners, while driving a culture built on attention to detail and financial scrutiny throughout the accounting department at the Home Office.

Dennis has been integral to Koelsch Communities expansion into new markets across America. Always striving to find ways to say yes, Dennis goes above and beyond the world of black and white to find strategic avenues that greatly benefit Koelsch Communities. He uses forward thinking to reach financial milestones and provide safeguards that protect the future of Koelsch Communities, it's employees, residents, and investors. Dennis graduated with a Master's Degree from Wheaton College Graduate School.

Cyndie Bryant, RN | Executive Vice President

Cyndie Bryant Koelsch corporate teamCyndie Bryant, R

Executive Vice President

Cyndie Bryant is the Executive Vice President for Koelsch Communities. Cyndie’s rich, 20-year history with Koelsch Communities has given her the expertise to oversee all aspects of Koelsch Communities, including operations, human resources, and marketing. Today, Cindy maintains an emphasis on quality improvement, resident satisfaction, and employee training, all focused towards creating and maintaining the safest, happiest, and most beautiful senior living communities. 

As Executive Vice President Cyndie develops insightful policies, effective procedures, and new auditing tools that unify and continually raise the standards of the Koelsch Communities. Cyndie also oversees professional education, using her 30 year history as a registered nurse to give guidance to Koelsch staff.

Cyndie joined Koelsch Communities in 1999 as a Director of Resident Services, and her time and experience with Koelsch has made her an invaluable leader. Today, Cyndie works with Koelsch Communities’ leadership, using her experience to shape the future of the company. Cyndie travels throughout the Koelsch Communities to train and work with Regional Directors, Executive Directors, and Resident Services Directors in both state compliance and Koelsch standards.

Eva Arant | Senior Vice President

Eva Arant corporate Koelsch teamEva Arant

Senior Vice President

Eva Arant is the Senior Vice President of Koelsch Communities. Eva joined Koelsch Communities in 2008, bringing a natural drive for team building and a commitment to providing Koelsch Communities with operational leadership and business acuity. By utilizing her experience, industry insights, and relationship building skills, Eva leads Koelsch Communities with purpose and unity.  

As Senior Vice President, Eva oversees more than 30 senior living communities. Eva is also responsible for developing and executing the strategic initiatives in company infrastructure that sustain future growth.

Eva provides day-to-day leadership to the Regional Directors of Operations, sharing her first-hand experiences which help to shape the direction of Koelsch Communities. Eva’s leadership will promote the Koelsch culture and core values

Eva began her work in the senior living industry in 1995, managing a variety of senior housing communities and gaining invaluable hands-on experience in operations. Eva has served in leadership roles at Koelsch such as Executive Director, Regional Director of Operations, Regional Human Resources Director, and Executive Administrator.

 

Terry Hanson | Vice President of Business Development

Terry Hanson Koelsch teamTerry Hanson

Vice President of Business Development

As the VP of Business Development for Koelsch Communities, Terry Hanson handles a range of duties such as construction, bridge and agency financing debt placement. Terry also play a major role in raising equity for new ground-up development opportunities, and looks for acquisitions of existing senior housing communities that are inline with the Koelsch foot print and strategy. Terry also takes the point on property disposition and sale leaseback.

Terry came to Koelsch Communities with a lengthy background in commercial lending and real estate development and acquisitions, and has been a friend of the Koelsch family for over 15 years. Terry received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Northwest Nazarene University, and his MBA from University of Oregon. Before joining Koelsch Communities, Terry acted as VP of Commercial Lending for a large commercial bank where he was responsible for developing customer lending relationships and structuring financial products. Terry was also a Principal and Owner of New Market Developments where he worked in residential and commercial development.

Terry lives in Tenino, Washington with his wife and is the father to two adult children and a high school student.  Terry and his wife, Sheri just recently purchase a Harley bike and are ready to ride off into the sunset once the third child finishes high school.

Lesley Yanak | Vice President of Marketing

Lesley Yanak Koelsch teamLesley Yanak

Vice President of Marketing

Lesley Yanak is the Vice President of Marketing for Koelsch Communities. Lesley sets the marketing tone for the company, works with the regional sales and operational teams, and oversees all press relations to establish a public persona that aligns with the Koelsch core values and companies inner workings. 

As VP of Marketing, Lesley finds innovative ways to tap into local markets, directing her team’s assets and materials to produce powerful results. She incorporates metrics and data to create campaigns and marketing strategies that are individualized to the region, striving to tell each communities’ story in a way that resonates with local families.  

Lesley started with Koelsch Communities in 2009, after working in the senior living industry since 1991. Over the years, she’s held a number of marketing leadership positions with major senior housing organizations, gaining experience in acquisitions, start-ups, recruiting, and operations, leading to a strong network of industry relationships across the country.

Becky Stokesbary | Regional Director of Operations

Beck Stokesbary corporate teamBecky Stokesbary

Regional Director of Operations

Becky has been with Koelsch Senior Communities since August 2011. After working as an Executive Director for 3 years.

Becky Stokesbary inspired a generation of young people as a beloved teacher and principal for 26 years before choosing senior living as a second career. In 2011, she joined Koelsch Senior Communities as Executive Director of Canterbury Inn, an independent and assisted-living community in Longview, WA. 

Today she oversees operations at all the company’s independent and assisted-living communities. “I try to offer the same support and inspiration to Executive Directors that Aaron and other company leaders provide to me,” she says. Becky has earned respect in her new career for her leadership ability and her humble willingness to serve and learn from others. “My favorite part of my new career is the same thing I loved about being an educator—the opportunity to build relationships,” she says. “I love developing relationships with staff and with our residents and their families.” Becky graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Elementary Education and Child and Family Studies. She and her husband have two grown children and one grandchild.

Michelle Baker | Regional Director of Operations

Michelle Baker corporate Koelsch teamMichelle Baker

Regional Director of Operations

Koelsch Communities, is proud to have Michelle Baker and her 26 years of leadership and management experience on the team.  Her vibrant background, includes healthcare settings in independent senior living, assisted living and memory care.  Her strong leadership skills shined through with multiple roles as an Executive Director and Regional Director by continuing to lead the industry in staff training, coaching, mentoring, project management and operations.

Michelle’s Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, from the University of Missouri, has afforded her opportunities in both the healthcare industry and the telecommunications industry.  Growing up in a small Missouri farm town, Michelle knows the meaning of hard work, family and personal integrity.  “Families entrust us to provide the very best of care for their loved ones, it’s a challenge and a responsibility I take very seriously,” says Michelle.

Michelle joined Koelsch Communities in 2013 as the Executive Director of Spring Creek Inn in Bozeman, Montana.  By utilizing her problem-solving, organizational, and her relationship building skills, she has been promoted to Regional Director of Operations for the Mountain States Region, where she continues to lead her teams to unprecedented growth and excellence.

Michelle and her husband, Greg, reside in Bozeman, MT with their son, Cole and their dog, Oakley.  Her interests include water skiing, snow skiing and spending time with family.

Don Barber | Regional Director of Operations

Don Barber Corporate TeamDon Barber

Regional Director of Operations

Don Barber currently serves as the Regional Director of Operations for Koelsch Communities, where he handles guidance and operational support to 7 memory care communities and 2 assisted living communities in Arizona and California. Don came to Koelsch Communities in 1993 at the age of 16 as an after-school dish washer, and since has worked his way up the ranks through a variety of Koelsch positions. Don acted as Food and Beverage Manager for multiple communities before serving as Senior Executive Director of Sterling Inn, the same community where he started with his hands in the sink.

Today, Don can proudly say he’s been a Koelsch employee for his entire career, noting that what he does know about other companies is “how happy their former employees are once they join Koelsch.” Over the years Don has held many of the positions he went on to oversee, which has created an additional bond of trust and respect with his coworkers. 

When Don isn’t working hard for Koelsch Communities, he can be found spending time with his wife and kids; whether they are out on the water in their boat, or catching a movie at the local theatre. Don also collects vinyl records of all music styles.

Garth Brandt | General Counsel/Director of HR

Garth Brandt Koelsch teamGarth Brandt

General Counsel/Director of HR

Garth Brandt practiced law at a firm specializing in senior housing before joining Koelsch Senior Communities as Associate General Counsel in 2002. He crossed over to the operations side of the business two years later, starting his tenure by living for a time in the senior community he managed. Garth was named Vice President of Operations in 2005 and served as a focused, dependable leader during a nearly 10-year period of rapid growth. In 2014, he chose to return to a legal role, serving as General Counsel for the company. In addition, he heads up KSC’s Human Resources Department. “I enjoy being part of a leadership team that is passionate about providing the very best care, community and customer service to seniors,” he says. Garth holds business and law degrees from the University of Washington. He and his wife have one daughter.

Judy Koelsch | Principal Designer

Judy Koelsch corporate teamJudy Koelsch

Principal Designer

Judy Koelsch has been the principal designer for Koelsch Senior Communities since its inception.

Judy Koelsch grew up in a hard-working entrepreneurial family that emigrated from Egypt and cherished America’s religious freedom and opportunity to thrive. Judy gravitated toward artistic expression from a young age. She earned a business degree from the University of Redlands, but nurtured a passion for interior design. In 1983, she married her high school sweetheart, Aaron Koelsch. Aaron’s mother, Alice, and his sisters encouraged her love for creating beautiful spaces and taught her to appreciate antiques. When Aaron and Judy were in their mid-20s, they broke ground on their first senior community, Sterling Inn, in Southern California.

Seeing an opportunity to try her hand at interior design, Judy founded her own business, JSK Design, and adopted Sterling Inn as her first professional challenge. The successful venture opened doors to designing banks, restaurants and other senior communities. Judy learned hard work and persistence are as important as passion in running a successful design business. As her family grew, she chose to limit her work to Koelsch Senior Communities exclusively. The principal designer for 25 KSC communities, Judy creates classic, timeless interiors with welcoming comfort and elegance. “I want my interiors to emotionally connect with residents and convey the peace and warmth of coming home,” she says.  Judy and Aaron have four children.

Tom Owens | Asset Manager

Tom Owens corporate teamTom Owens

Asset Manager

Tom Owens brings a can-do background of commercial building design, construction, maintenance and mechanical repair to Koelsch Senior Communities.

Tom joined the company in 2008 as Maintenance Director for Sterling Inn and Sterling Commons, Victorville, CA. In 2014, Tom was promoted to Asset Manager, a new position created at the home office to oversee plant operations for all KSC properties. Tom’s take-charge attitude and detail-oriented approach help keep the company’s communities showcases of comfort and elegance. “I want our properties to reflect love, dignity and respect for seniors,” he says. “These aren’t just buildings to me—these are people’s homes.” Tom and his wife have four children.

​Benjamin Surmi | Director of Programs and Training

Benjamin Surmi koelsch teamBenjamin Surmi

Director of Programs and Training

Benjamin trains new Executive Directors in the Koelsch Living Well program and supports 80 Life Enrichment Directors in helping over 1,200 elders thrive.

Benjamin Surmi grew up listening to his aging neighbors tell stories of life during World War II. “I would sit mesmerized by the power of their story-telling skills,” he says. As he began volunteering in assisted living communities, he developed a specific passion for empowering elders to enjoy a fruitful, meaningful elderhood – no matter what disabilities they encountered. He graduated with an M.S. in Gerontology and had often been selected for leading new initiatives. He opened a new memory care neighborhood in California and pioneered the elder-directed Turner Lifelong Learning Center in Nashville – the first partnership with a YMCA in the nation. He and his wife have a little girl and a baby boy.

Joel August | Dining Services Specialist

Joel August koelsch teamJoel August

Dining Services Specialist

Joel brings creativity and new ideas to our dining programs.

Joel joined the company in 2014 as the Director of Dining Services at Cedarbrook Memory Care in Fresno, California. In 2016, Joel was promoted to Dining Services Specialist which is a new position created at our home office. Joel will be working alongside all of our communities helping plan, organize and coach our dining programs to the highest of standards. Joel graduated from California State University Fresno with his Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Recreation/Hospitality Management. His food and beverage experiences include overseeing operations of a minor league baseball park, fine dining, catering and a dinner cruise of the coast off South Carolina. He brings creativity and new ideas to our dining programs.

Joel’s mission statement is simple: “To exceed expectations and provide a satisfying and rewarding dining experience for our residents/families.” Joel is a firm believer that a person feasts with their eyes first and that if something is presented nicely and visually appealing they are already psychologically thinking it will taste good. His drive to exceed expectations and attention to detail make him a valuable asset to the KSC team.