Meet the Team

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Larry Leonard

Executive Director

Larry Leonard has a business degree from San Diego State University and is an avid supporter of its football and basketball teams. He has been the executive director at this property for the last 10 years. Before that, he lived with his family in Maui, Hawaii, for 16 years where they owned and operated several restaurants. While living in Hawaii, his son was a state champion in swimming and his daughter was Miss Hawaii. Larry has been married for 32 years and has three grown children and four beautiful granddaughters. When he is not working, you can find him on his golf cart heading for the first tee at Bear Creek Golf Club.

Karla Rubio-Twilliger

Director of Sales and Marketing

Karla Rubio-Twilliger joined the Solstice at El Cajon team in June of 2019. She has a business degree in marketing from the University of San Diego, School of Business. After working in banking for 15 years, she decided that she wanted to make a difference. Her passion is helping seniors find their home and benefit from our vibrant, independent community. Karla has been happily married to her husband, Glenn, for 23 years. Together, they have four children, a 2-year-old German shepherd and an 11-year-old Bichon Frisé. Outside of work, she is involved in her church as a lector and extraordinary eucharistic minister. She loves to dance, and started dancing flamenco and Ballet Folklórico when she was 6 years old.


Kathy Rodriguez

Business Office Director

Kathy Rodriguez joined Solstice Senior Living at El Cajon in May 2018. She has been working with seniors since she was 16 years old back in the mid-’70s, when she started out as a nurse’s aide. She also has a background in working as an activity director for 15 years and a social services designee in various skilled nursing facilities. In 2000, she decided to go back to school at Bryman College, where she studied business administration. Kathy has three grown daughters, four grandsons and six granddaughters. She also has one great-grandson and four great-granddaughters. She loves road trips, visiting the grandkids, playing with Legos and spending time with her two fur babies, (Yorkies) Snickers and Naima.


Joanne Barenco

Culinary Services Director

With over 30 years of experience in the field, Chef Joanne Barenco has had the pleasure of working in many wonderful locations, including San Diego, Monterrey, San Francisco and New Orleans. With her diverse culinary background, Chef Joanne brings variety and overflowing creativity to the lives of her residents through cuisine. “I have been here in El Cajon for the last seven years. I enjoy the challenge of cooking for my residents and the creativity that comes along with that – particularly baking. When I am not cooking, I devote my time to my lifelong passion for animals. I am active in rescue and volunteering programs.”


Emily Gutierrez

Vibrant Life Director

Emily Gutierrez joined Solstice Senior Living at El Cajon in October of 2013. In the last six years, Emily has grown with the company, first as a server then a housekeeper. A heartwarming, standing ovation was given to Emily by the residents after it was announced that she would take the position of our Vibrant Life director. Emily completed two years of college in computer graphics, design and art. She has two adult children. Emily’s daughter also worked as a server in the community before pursuing her career in the medical field and is now a licensed vocational nurse. Emily is a grandmother of a handsome 2-year-old boy. She enjoys art and music. Emily believes you should share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.


Richard Torpey

Building Services Director

Richard Torpey, an Air Force veteran, has been working for Solstice at El Cajon for over 11 years. He has a background of working for 15 years in special education adapting equipment for the physically handicapped in the San Diego City Schools. Richard has a son who is married and works as a teacher and a beautiful 2-year-old granddaughter. He was a volunteer Little League Baseball coach for 14 years in addition to coaching basketball and soccer. Richard’s new hobby is playing the guitar. He also likes to try his luck at the horse races.


Lupe Romero

Lead Concierge

Lupe Romero has been with Solstice at El Cajon for over 14 years. She began as a housekeeper and server until she earned the position of head housekeeper. Lupe worked her way out of housekeeping and into the role of lead concierge, where she takes care of the front desk duties for Solstice at El Cajon. She is a very dedicated employee and enjoys working with our directors to ensure the senior community feels right at home. Lupe has three hardworking adult children and four adorable grandchildren ranging from 1 to 8 years old. She enjoys spending time with her family and tries to keep up the tradition of Sunday cookouts in the yard. Lupe also enjoys making quilts for her loved ones.

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