Villa Alamar opened in 1996 and quickly became the gold standard of 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: Here, residents enjoy the freedom to explore and discover various sensory stimulating indoor and outdoor environments, all within the safety of the community. Safety in freedom is a fundamental need of people living with memory loss, and Villa Alamar, with its open pathways and beautiful courtyards, offers a perfect dementia care environment.

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

Our Management Team

Mitch Leichter


 Mitch started his healthcare career as a Recreation Therapist back in 1996 and was also trained in aromatherapy and holistic treatments. He obtained his Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) Administrators license in 2000 and since 2010 has been the Administrator/Partner Owner 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 with friends and family, enjoying the beach, and 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 in many fields ranging from Sub-Acute Care, Hospice, Home Health, Adult Day Care, Dementia, and Assisted Living.

He is a 5th generation Santa Barbara native and enjoys serving seniors in our community. He also serves as Associate Executive Director at Alexander Gardens Assisted Living.

His focus is working closely with the staff to provide consistent, quality care in a service oriented fashion. “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 an LVN for over 24 years. She started her nursing career at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital at the Subacute unit.

Later, Shandy served as a hospice nurse for 19 years for the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, working at the inpatient hospice house for 5 ½ of those years and the remainder providing in home hospice service.

Being born and raised locally has made her very connected 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 also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, music and dancing.


Luciana Mitzkun

Community Services Director

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

Luciana is the author of Ahead of Dementia and Ahead of Memory Loss, books that bring invaluable information for patients and caregivers affected with memory-related conditions.

When she is not assisting patients and their families or writing, Luciana is traveling, snorkeling, or dancing 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 high school and college years, which led to 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 Maria creates for them.

Outside of work Maria enjoys abstract acrylic painting, participating in Toastmasters (public speaking club), and dancing.



Ingrid Lino
Administrative Services Director

 Ingrid has earned her AA in Liberal Studies at Santa Barbara City College. She is currently working on getting her certification for Addictive Disorders Counseling (ADC) at SBCC, with goal to pursuing a BA in Psychology.

Ingrid is a proud Santa Barbara Native, first generation Mexican-American. She adopted beautiful Meeka 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.