Villa Alamar opened in 1996 and quickly became the gold standard for memory care in Santa Barbara, California. Its architectural features are uniquely suited for the care of residents living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Residents can safely make use of indoor and outdoor environments to maintain an active and engaging lifestyle.  A stimulating environment is emphasized at Villa Alamar.  Its open pathways and beautiful courtyards offer a perfect dementia care community.

In 2018, Villa Alamar was acquired by a local group which is now responsible for its management.  At the core of our philosophy we believe in creating a close collaboration with family members and medical teams to achieve the best ongoing quality of care for each of our residents.

Our Management Team

Mitch Leichter

Mitch started his healthcare career as a Recreation Therapist  in 1996 and was also trained in aromatherapy and holistic treatments. He obtained his Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) Administrator’s license in 2000 and since 2014 has been the Administrator/Partner at Alexander Gardens, an assisted living community in Santa Barbara.

Mitch is the past recipient of the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) award for his Sensory Integration Program for dementia patients, which he brings to Villa Alamar to the delight of our residents.

In his spare time Mitch enjoys spending time enjoying the beach with friends and family.  In his spare time he can be found adding a new awesome design to his Hawaiian shirt collection.


Joseph Newlan, LVN
Associate Executive Director

Joseph has over 25 years of experience as a nurse. He is certified in Advanced Care Planning Facilitation, phlebotomy, and RCFE Administration.  Joseph’s nursing career encompasses many fields ranging from Sub-Acute Care, Hospice, Home Health, Adult Day Care, Dementia, and Assisted Living.

He is a 5th generation Santa Barbarian and enjoys serving seniors in our community. Along with his work at Villa Alamar, he is the Associate Executive Director at Alexander Gardens Assisted Living.

He believes it is important to build a working team that provides consistent, quality care with a resident/family focus. “We treat the residents and their family as one unit,” says Joseph.  “The emotional health and care of our family members is as important as the care we give our residents.”


Shandy Newlan, LVN
Resident Services Director

Shandy is a SBCC graduate and has been an LVN for over 24 years. She started her nursing career at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in their Subacute unit.  Then Shandy served as a hospice nurse for 19 years with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, working in their inpatient hospice house for 5 ½ of those years and the remainder providing in-home hospice services.

Being born and raised locally adds to her commitment to our community.  She is very excited to be a part of Villa Alamar’s wonderful team and this new endeavor. Working in close partnership with her husband, Joseph, is definitely another plus!

Shandy enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing music and dancing.


Luciana Mitzkun Weston
Community Services Director

Luciana is an expert in dementia care with over 25 years of experience assisting patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s and related conditions. Formerly a Care Specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Family Services Director for the Friendship Center adult day care, Luciana brings extensive knowledge in care planning and working with diverse communities. She is a certified Mediator and Support Group Facilitator, providing additional support to our families.

Luciana is the author of two books on dementia care, Ahead of Dementia and Ahead of Memory Loss, resources that bring valuable information and strategies to patients and caregivers affected with memory-related conditions.

When she is not assisting patients and their families or writing, Luciana likes to  travel, snorkel or dance to country music with her husband, The Roy.


Maria Porter
Life Enrichment Director

Maria was born and raised in Seattle, where she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in drama.

She volunteered in nursing homes during her high school and college years, where she found her passion for working with seniors. Maria has worked as an Activity Director since 1997. She moved to Santa Barbara in 2014.

Maria loves working with our residents and their families. She believes it is her life’s calling and feels very blessed serving seniors, who thoroughly enjoy the fun activities and programs she creates with them.

Beyond her work day, Maria enjoys abstract acrylic painting, participating in toastmasters (a public speaking club) and dancing.



Ingrid Lino
Administrative Services Director

Ingrid earned her A.A. in Liberal Studies at Santa Barbara City College.  She is currently working on getting her certification in Addictive Disorders Counseling (ADC) at SBCC, with the goal of pursuing a B.A. in Psychology.

Ingrid is a proud Santa Barbara native, first generation Mexican-American. She adopted beautiful Meeka, a mixed Terrier mix.  She fell in love with her after meeting her at Villa Alamar where she served as a certified therapy dog with the Humane Society. Meeka is now a senior herself, and still comes to our community to provide pet companionship to our residents.

In her spare time Ingrid enjoys riding her Vespa, relaxing at the beach, and spending time with family and friends.