Meet the Team

Linda Perez
Executive Director

Linda began working in senior living in 2004 following a career in higher education. In reflecting on both careers, Linda has found it rewarding to work with individuals and families during times of meaningful transition.  Working with adults spanning from eighteen to 100 years of age, she is touched by and appreciates the life-long journeys of growth and experience that God unfolds for each person.  Linda desires to come alongside people to provide support during times of change and, through that support, bring peace of mind.  She finds working in senior living particularly enjoyable because it is a setting where staff and residents alike appreciate each other.  Linda previously served as our Associate Executive Director before going on to become Executive Director at our sister community in Colorado. She is thrilled to be back at the Samarkand. 

Scott Bigler
Healthcare Admin

Scott joined Covenant Living at the Samarkand in 2018. As our Healthcare Administrator, he has full responsibility for our skilled nursing facility operations. Scott began his career in health care as a teenager when he was privileged to participate in the care of his aging grandmother and subsequently his terminally ill father. This early experience exposed him to the vulnerabilities of seniors and others in need of stable living situations to support their aging and general care needs. 

Scott enjoys serving in his church, which includes his current voluntary service as a counselor to the local Bishop (Pastor). In this capacity, he helps minister to local members and helps members make and keep covenants.

Karen Harris
Human Resource Director

A graduate of UCSB, Karen has been a part of the Covenant Living family since 1986 working in the mailroom sorting all the incoming mail for residents. Shortly thereafter she found her way to the Human Resources department working simultaneously in dual roles as the Human Resource Director and the campus Administrative Assistant. Karen's passion in HR comes from her joy in mentoring HR professionals in the community and supporting other non-profits with HR issues.

“Working at Covenant Living at the Samarkand for most of my career has been a joy. I love how employees and residents care for each other. While my focus is on the employees, I enjoy being part of the residents' lives and am happy to help out with resident events and activities. “

Michael Easbey
Director of Assisted Living

Michael joined Covenant Living at the Samarkand as the Assisted Living Director in 2017. He joined our community originally for the "Good Neighbor" position in the Smith Health Center. The Good Neighbor is a resident funded position that seeks to provide companionship and individualized social care to residents in skilled nursing. Afterwards, he served as Admissions Coordinator within the same building. Michael comes from a background in food and beverage management but left his field to seek a career in faith-based, non-profit work. 

Michael is grateful for the opportunities he has been given to serve the residents at the Samarkand. He loves making connections with residents, helping to provide support through challenges, and seeing residents live their best lives! He is a third-generation Santa Barbara native and is married with two children. In his free time, he enjoys playing music and is working toward his master's degree in Eastern Orthodox Christian Theology.

 

Joshua Abad
Director of Sales

Joshua began working with seniors in high school as a volunteer at a local continuing care retirement community. This opportunity prompted his interest to work in the hospitality industry. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. Prior to joining Covenant Living, Joshua worked for the Walt Disney Company in various roles for over 6 years. His passion has always been to create happiness to those around him and working with the Sales team here at Covenant Living has allowed him to do just that. “I have really enjoyed making a difference in the lives of our residents. My main goal is to make one’s journey to our community as seamless as possible. Being able to provide peace of mind to families that their loved ones are cared for is truly rewarding.”

Danielle Tervo-Shiffman
Resident Life Director

Danielle (Dani) was raised on the island of St Thomas, USVI, and completed her Biology Degree at UCSB in Santa Barbara, CA. Her love for the outdoors, physical activity and the ocean kept her in the beautiful Santa Barbara area, and led her feet to the Fitness and Wellness Industry. For 30 years she has been a group fitness instructor, personal trainer and Group Fitness Program Manager, and ran her own business for most of those 30 years providing Personal Training/Wellness Services and creating innovative Corporate Fitness and Wellness Programs for local companies. Dani was our Campus Wellness Coordinator from 2014-2020 and has now expanded her role as our Resident Life Director.

Marcela Torres
Director of Dining Services

Marcela (Marcy) Torres was born in outside Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, she loved exploring different regions of Mexico and the United States, which ultimately led her to seek a career in the Hospitality industry. Marcy’s curiosity grew as she saw her older sister, an RN, work with seniors at a local retirement home. Starting as a server and working her way up while finishing college, she became a Supervisor, Catering Manager, then Dining Supervisor. After completing college, Marcy accepted a role for Sodexo’s senior team as a Hospitality Manager for a brand new 42-bed rehab facility. Sodexo noted her outstanding accomplishments and offered her an opportunity to transfer to the beautiful Samarkand. Marcy and her wife Megan picked up their belongings and moved across the country for a new and exciting adventure. Currently, as Director of Dining Services, she oversees dining operations, including menu development, execution, food safety, and sanitation compliance. Marcy is passionate about improving the quality of life for residents in long-term care communities and is committed to providing delicious and nutritious meals that meet their individual needs.

Jesse Santillan
Executive Chef

Jesse Santillan was born in Michoacán, Mexico. His love for food and inspiration to work in the kitchen started with his grandmother, who celebrated every holiday and occasion by preparing her favorite, traditional dishes. After graduating from high school, Santillan moved to California, looking for better opportunities. With no restaurant business experience, he was fortunate to start as a prep cook in an Italian restaurant in Ojai, California. In one year, Santillan was able to work all stations and realized his dream was to become a chef.

After four years in Ojai, Santillan moved to Santa Barbara, California, to attend Santa Barbara City College while continuing to work. He worked for two years as Sous Chef at Andria’s Harbor Side, the best seafood restaurant in town, and then the Four Seasons Biltmore, where he worked directly with Executive Chef Mel Mecinas.

From 2000-2010, Santillan worked as Sous Chef at Baccara Resort & Spa for the fine dining restaurant Miro, supervising and creating new menus. He also supervised the banquet kitchen, preparing dinners for large conference groups.

In August 2011, Chef Santillan was part of the Pebble Beach team as Chef of The Tap Room where he brought a simple, light culinary style to the restaurant, working with fresh and local ingredients that abound on the Monterey Peninsula. Once Santillan expanded his culinary talents in most of the best restaurants and hotels in Santa Barbara, he joined Covenant Living at the Samarkand as our Executive Chef in 2019. He works daily with the team to bring new flairs and a variety of new dishes to our residents. One of Santillan’s passions, is expanding on the global gastronomy and execute menus from all around the world and does just that for our residents.