Villa Alamar opened in 1996 and quickly became the gold standard for memory care in Santa Barbara, California.

Our 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 elements to maintain an active and engaging lifestyle.  Our sensory-stimulating environment,  open pathways, and beautiful courtyards offer a perfect memory care community.

In 2018, Villa Alamar was acquired by a group of local residents who are now responsible for its management.  At the core of our care philosophy is our belief in working in 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, specialized in aromatherapy and holistic treatments. He obtained his Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) Administrator’s license in 2000. Today, in addition to Villa Alamar, Mitch is the Administrator/Partner at Alexander Gardens Assisted Living in Santa Barbara.

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

In his spare time Mitch enjoys being at the beach with friends and family. He is always looking to add an awesome new design to his extensive 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 has a passion for 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.”


Yesenia Leon, MA
Resident Services Director

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Yesenia started working with seniors at the age of 16, when she took a caregiving position at Friendship Manor in Goleta. That was what sparked her passion for senior care and she proceeded furthering her education by completing her Medical Assistant certification at our own Santa Barbara City College.  She began her MA career working with Visiting Nurses and Hospice Care.

She joined Villa Alamar in 2017 first as a caregiver, then a medication technician, and in 2020 she assumed the position of Resident Services Director. With careful attention to detail and genuine dedication to the health of our residents, Yesenia is trusted by her colleagues and adored by our residents.

“I love when I catch a glimpse of our residents”, says Yesenia, “especially during those special  moments when they really look at you and say Thank you! – you know it is really sincere and it makes my heart melt… they remind me every day of how much I love my job!”

The high quality of her work indeed reflects her passion and dedication!


Luciana Mitzkun Weston
Community Services Director

Luciana is a licensed RCFE Administrator and memory care specialist, with nearly 30 years of experience in assisting families and patients affected with dementia, such as in Alzheimer’s disease. Formerly a Care Consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association, Luciana brings extensive knowledge in care planning and working in collaboration with diverse supportive organizations and community leaders. She is also a Certified Mediator and Support Group Facilitator, providing additional direct support to our families.

Luciana is the author of two popular books on memory 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. Her work is also available in Spanish, Un Paso Adelante de la Demencia.

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


Ingrid Estrella
Operation Services Director

Ingrid is a licensed RCFE administrator who has been with Villa Alamar since 2017. She describes herself as a people’s person who wants to help people.

It was her desire to help people that propelled her to study Addictive Disorders Counseling at the Santa Barbara City College, where she received her A.A. in Liberal Studies. But it was at Villa Alamar that she discovered her passion for working with seniors and appreciation for all the wisdom that those living with dementia have to offer.

A proud Santa Barbara native, first generation Mexican-American, Ingrid is also the owner of Game-Seeker, a popular table-games store on 537 State St.

Her family has also had some wonderful addition: Ingrid and her newlywed husband Steven have recently adopted Zoe, a lab-dachshund mix who brings lots of canine love to our residents.

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


Mary Wheat
Life Enrichment Coordinator 

With a background in the arts, Mary transitioned into geriatric care in 2018 and joined the team at Villa Alamar in 2021.

Mary grew up in Boston, Massachusetts where she was a ballet dancer and teacher and ran her own small business of dance programming. A dance injury necessitated giving up her dance career and the illness of her mother inspired Mary’s second calling in life: The care and companionship of seniors.

Mary moved to Santa Barbara to work in the skilled nursing facility of a large retirement community. After working in Dining Services and the Activities Department there, in 2019 she joined the social services department as the Assistant to the Director of Social Services.

With a profound belief that senior citizens should be valued and appreciated, Mary runs our activities and events program building on the life experiences of each of our residents. She strives to provide fulfilling programming that is meaningful and beneficial for both mind and body. In her own words: “It is my joy and honor to get to know each resident and help them share their wisdom and their stories.”