Hillside Appoints Three New Board Members

By Giving List Staff   |   March 15, 2023

The Three Bring Experience, Expertise, and Energy to the Board

Dr. Kirk Gilbert and Pamela Gilbert

Hillside is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors. They are Kirk Gilbert, MD; Lucrezia DeLeon; and Alma Janabajab, MPA, CWDP. Each will bring experience, expertise, and energy to their new roles on the Board: Dr. Gilbert – family medicine; Lucrezia DeLeon – architecture, affordable housing, and sustainability; and Alma Janabajab – workforce development, marketing, and public relations.

In May of 2022, Kirk Gilbert, MD was unanimously voted onto the Hillside Board of Directors for a three-year term. For almost 40 years, Dr. Gilbert has practiced family medicine in Santa Barbara with experience in nursing and residential healthcare facilities. After the vote, Michael S. Rassler, Hillside’s President & CEO, expressed his approval, commenting that “We are honored to have Kirk join the Hillside family!” 

 For undergraduate studies and medical school, Gilbert attended the University of Washington. He completed an internship and residency in Family Practice through the University of California Los Angeles. After his residency, in 1983, he moved to Santa Barbara and started his own practice. After seven years as a solo practitioner, Dr. Gilbert joined Jerry Kay, MD and formed Family Practice Medical Group of Santa Barbara. He was one of the founders of the Santa Barbara Independent Physicians Association (IPA) where he served on the Board of Directors and was the Medical Director. In December 2019, he retired from these professional activities, but he was called back into administrative medical work. Currently, he is the President of Seaview IPA, which operates in Ventura County. 

Lucrezia R. DeLeon

Regarding his Board appointment, Dr. Gilbert says: “I have a good skill set to help provide oversight for Hillside, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

A mom of three and an advocate for housing and the homeless in Santa Barbara, Lucrezia R. DeLeon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture with an emphasis on the sustainable built environment and socio-equity. With her thesis on Demographic Determinants on Health through the Built Environment, she explored cyclical housing through the National Housing Authority (NHA) guidelines, redlining, and the perpetuated socio-economic gap through housing. DeLeon works as an Architectural Designer with Vanguard Planning, Inc. Previously she was with RRM Design Group and focused on projects ranging from affordable multifamily housing to civic and community. All of her previous positions explored functional information and operations of housing development on multiple levels, with a special emphasis on homelessness, affordable housing, workforce housing, and public housing.

DeLeon currently serves as secretary on the Santa Barbara Beautiful Board of Directors. She is the Communications Chair and Board of Directors Officer for Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County. In January of 2023, DeLeon joined the Hillside Board of Directors saying: “Having been born and raised on the Central Coast, I am pleased my focus on affordable housing utilizing sustainable materials to improve society and provide for the most vulnerable can have an impact at Hillside.”

Alma Janabajab with photos of Lana inspiring her

Alma Janabajab likewise joined the Hillside Board of Directors in January of 2023, and was also unanimously approved for a three-year term. Like Gilbert and DeLeon, she received a warm welcome from her fellow Board members.

In September of 2021, Janabajab was the keynote family speaker at the Hillside 17th Annual Sunset Soirée – 75th Anniversary Celebration. She shared that her sister Lana was thriving since moving into Hillside in late 2017. Janabajab added, “I am so grateful to TEAM Hillside. You are all amazing! Thank you for your dedication, compassion, and talents.” According to Janabajab, Lana is learning to speak more words, verbalizing her needs, regaining her ability to walk, and is clearly happier at Hillside than at any of her previous living arrangements.

For the past 24 years, Janabajab has worked for the County of Santa Barbara. Since July of 2009, she has been a dedicated staff member in the Department of Social Services – currently serving as the Business Services Strategist for the Workforce Development Board. Throughout her career, she has enjoyed making connections and bringing people together. In addition to her role in public service, Janabajab has chaired many committees for the Municipal Management Association of Southern California, and is currently their immediate Past President. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business at California State University Channel Islands, and her Master in Public Administration at California State University Northridge.

About joining the Hillside Board, Janabajab says with an easy smile: “I want to be sure TEAM Hillside is appreciated and acknowledged for the great work they do. It takes commitment, compassion, caring, respect, and obviously amazing staff to provide this for the residents.”

For 78 years and counting, Hillside has served hundreds of individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dedicated staff members care for residents as they strive to maximize their abilities; reach for their goals and dreams; and achieve their highest level of independence. 

Hillside continues moving forward with its visionary Community Project to create a diverse and integrated mixed-abilities neighborhood on its 24-acre property, with state-of-the-art, adaptive homes for residents, while also incorporating low-income, senior, and market-rate housing. It will be the first-of-its-kind planned community in the Santa Barbara area.

Please register for the Hillside Pickleball Tournament & Expo, on Saturday, April 15, 2023, 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club, 5800 Cathedral Oaks Road, Goleta. For information, please visit hillsidesb.org or contact Lisa Wilcox at 805-453-1668. Proceeds benefit Hillside and the residents.

Please save the date for the Hillside 19th Annual Sunset Soirée By-the-Sea set for Saturday, June 3, 2023, 5:00-8:30 pm, Cabrillo Pavilion, 1118 East Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara. Proceeds benefit Hillside and the residents.

For information, please visit hillsidesb.org or contact Cheryl Sweeney, Chief Development Officer, at 805-687-0788 x123 or csweeney@hillsidesb.org. To make a gift in support of Hillside and the residents, please visit hillsidesb.org/donate. Thank you.



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President & CEO: Michael S. Rassler


Our mission is to provide a home that supports our residents’ efforts to maximize their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional abilities so that they can attain their highest level of independence in an environment where people are treated with dignity and respect.

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Caring for our son JP was extremely hard on our whole family. My marriage was suffering, and I didn’t really have a relationship with our daughter. It was all so overwhelming and difficult. JP’s needs were too much for us to handle. Hillside has enabled us to be a family again. JP is happy, all his needs are being taken care of, and he is learning so much. I have a healthy marriage now, and a great relationship with our daughter. We are so grateful for the wonderful care and love Hillside provides our son.
Lisa Wilcox, Mother of JP (Hillside Resident) and Hillside Board Member

Equity and Inclusion for Hillside Residents

Hillside residents live far below the poverty level. Government reimbursements cover the bare minimum: room, board, and essential medical care. In order to help residents reach their goals, Hillside must raise in excess of $800,000 a year to fund a variety of critically important services, programs, and activities including:

• One-on-One Aides – most residents require individual care for walking or wheelchair use, dressing, eating, bathing, and toiletry;

• Speech Therapy – crucial to help residents express themselves so they can let their wants and needs be known;

• Physical Education – adaptive sports and movement increase mobility and bring residents a sense of accomplishment;

• Behavioral Therapy – decreases maladaptive behavior and teaches residents techniques to help cope with their challenges; 

• Physical Therapy – maximizes residents range of motion, reduces pain, and prevents locking of joints;

• Aquatic Therapy – helps residents gain more muscle control, increase their self-confidence, and improve physical function;

• Skills Development – to achieve greater independence such as cooking, money recognition, and using assistive technologies.

Key Supporters

Ann Jackson Family Foundation
Assistance League of Santa Barbara
Henry W. Bull Foundation
Chumash Foundation
City of SB Human Services
Demboski & Chapman Financial
Brad and Cynthia Frohling
Norris and Barry Goss
Hutton Parker Foundation
IOA Insurance Services, Inc.
Jim and Chana Jackson
Latkin Charitable Foundation
Donald Logan
June G. Outhwaite Foundation
Joan Redmond & Susan Crossley
Robert Ross
Santa Barbara Foundation
Gary Simpson/SB Home
St. Francis Foundation
Thomson Charitable Foundation
Towbes Foundation
Peter and Gina Troesch
Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation
Williams-Corbett Foundation
Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara