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Our Team

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About Our Team

Meridian staff is made up of professionals and paraprofessionals who were selected for their skill and compassion. Our clinical teams represent a broad spectrum of expertise in the treatment of mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and ensuring that treatment for these disorders is integrated with care for other health concerns and social issues. Our leadership team includes highly experienced professionals in healthcare administration and management.

Leadership Team

Heather Akpan

Vice President, Human Resources

Heather has over 16 years of experience in the area of Human Capital, with a depth of experience in Talent Management, Organizational Development, Instructional Learning Strategies, Workforce Readiness, Leadership Development and Employee Relations. She has worked as a Human Capital consultant and internally for various industries and large companies before joining Meridian in 2010.

352-374-5600, 8277

Richard Anderson

Senior Vice President/Chief Clinical Officer

With Meridian since 1981, Richard has held his current position since 2006. In his current role, Richard oversees a full continuum of mental health and addictions programs for adults and children over a ten county, mostly rural area. Richard is active in community and statewide organizations; he is currently Vice President for the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. Richard received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in February 1980.

Richard was awarded a President’s Minority Scholarship and Federal Traineeship awards to attend the University of Florida, where he earned his Master of Health Sciences degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in August 1981. Richard has attained Certification as an Addictions Professional and is a Certified Evaluator Supervisor for the State of Florida.

352-374-5600, 8232

Logan Anglin

Vice President, Staffing and Recruitment

Logan joined Meridian in 2011 and currently oversees Recruitment, Credentialing and Staffing for all Meridian programs. She has more than 12 years of experience in management, human resources, staffing, recruitment and marketing. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of West Florida in Criminal Justice / Forensic Studies with minors in Psychology, Social Welfare and Child Welfare. Logan currently serves on the Meridian Employee and Engagement Committee and is a member of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Florida Healthcare Workforce.

(352) 374-5600, 8294

Myriah Brady

Vice President, Outpatient & Recovery Services North

Myriah oversees outpatient counseling, outpatient substance abuse treatment and case management in Meridian's Northern Region. She has been a licensed clinical social worker for 25 years and has spent much of her career in the medical field, in management and in secondary education. Myriah is passionate about locating mental health services within the community (i.e. in homes, schools, probation offices, physician offices).

352-374-5600, 8064

Karen Brown

Vice President, Housing Services

Brown joined Meridian in 2013 with more than 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry, advancing through several positions at Meridian including administration and quality improvement since joining Meridian in 2012. She was appointed Director of Housing in 2014 and promoted to Vice President of Housing Services in 2016.

In her current role, Brown leads Meridian’s efforts to maintain, protect and create safe, clean and connected housing for individuals living with chronic mental illness. Additionally, she oversees Section 8 contract compliance, property management, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in Food and Resource Economics and a master’s degree in Strategic Leadership. She is actively involved in several housing-related community initiatives. These initiatives include serving on the housing subcommittee for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) for the region; the Communities the Care Land Trust advisory board; and other communities focused on making homelessness, rare, brief and non-recurring.

(352) 374-5600, 8921

Lauren Cohn

Senior Vice President / Chief Performance Officer

Lauren is a certified Lean Six Stigma Green Belt and a graduate of the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Prior to relocating to Gainesville from Tampa with her husband and daughter, she served as the Director of Quality Improvement for the Agency for Community Treatment Services, from 2014-2017. Lauren has an extensive history of leadership within the mental healthcare industry; with nearly 15 years of experience.

(352) 374-5600, 8353

John Corneilson, MBA

Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

John Corneilson was named Chief Financial Officer in May 2016 after serving as Vice President of Finance and Accounting / Comptroller since 2014. Prior to joining Meridian, John served as Director at Luther Springs Camp and Retreat Center in Hawthorne, Fla., after 22 years in industrial accounting as Controller at manufacturing facilities stretching from Ocala, Fla., Poplar, Bluff; Mo., and Boone; Iowa., to Reynosa, Mexico. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Business Management at Augustana College; and, received a Master’s in Business Administration and Accounting from Northern Illinois University.

374-5600, 8283

Terri Crawford

Vice President, Outpatient & Recovery Services South

(352) 374-5600, 8271

Japera Denson, RHIA, CHPS

Director, Health Information Management and Privacy Officer

Japera joined Meridian in 2012 and currently oversees the organization’s Health Information Management department. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University in Health Informatics and Information Management and is a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). In 2016, Japera became Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) and began serving as Meridian’s Privacy Officer. Japera is an active member of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and its Florida chapter, FHIMA.

(352) 374-5600, 8148

Shantel Jones

Vice President, Medical Practice Management

Jones began her career in Mental Health as a Certified Behavioral Tech; where she provided direct care, for 9 years, to individuals diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Saint Leo University and has received numerous awards during her time at Meridian; including the 2014 and 2016 "I Am Meridian" Award, 2015 Supervisor of the Year and a 2017 Meridian Rock Star. Jones is the Research Coordinator for a Prelapse Case Study which focuses on preventing relapse in patients suffering from first episode or early phase schizophrenia and also serves on the Meridian Employee Engagement Committee. Most recently, she has become a member of the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM.)

(352) 374-5600, 8288

Jackie Knabel

Senior Vice President / Chief Human Resources Officer

Jackie has been with Meridian since 2006 and is responsible for recruiting, training and development, staff relations, payroll, credentialing, and compliance. With more than 20 years corporate experience in Human Resources, as well as several years' experience operating her own HR consulting business, Jackie has a solid background in employee relations, training and development, employment law and recruiting. Previously she was the Program Director at the Society of Human Resource Management, Senior Executive Recruiter at ACS and Employment Manager at ClientLogic, and is currently the owner of Knabel Enterprises. Jackie has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Masters of Human Resource Management from the University of North Florida and has completed the Advanced Program in Human Resources Management at UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

352-374-5600, 8277

Maggie Labarta

President/Chief Executive Officer

Maggie is a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of healthcare management experience. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland (College Park) and has been with Meridian since 1983. Her clinical experience includes a focus on work with families in cases of abuse, neglect and family law as well as work within acute inpatient psychiatric settings. Administratively, she has considerable experience in strategic planning and organizational development.

352-374-5600, 8220

Carali McLean

Senior Vice President, Clinical Services

Carali joined Meridian in November 2016 with more than 25 years experience in community mental health in the Tampa area where she held positions as Continuous Quality Improvement officer with Gracepoint management and Chief Administrative Officer with the Agency for Community Treatment Services. She holds a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in social work from Florida State University, in addition to licenses in clinical social work and healthcare risk management.

(352) 374-5600, 8650

Laurie Michaelson, MAdv.

Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Advancement

Laurie Michaelson was promoted to the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Advancement after serving as Director of Marketing Communications since 2014. Laurie's experience prior to Meridian includes more than 10 years experience in marketing, research, communication and business development. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and received a Master’s in Advertising from the University of Florida, where she now teaches as an undergraduate and graduate adjunct lecturer. Her background in photojournalism and passion for travel have taken her around the world chronicling the stories of people from Germany, Peru, South Sudan and Tanzania.

374-5600, 8218

Sara Mihlfeld

Vice President, Medication Assisted Treatment Services

Sara began her nursing career as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1978 in Indiana. She moved to Gainesville and began her career with Meridian in 1993, working on the Detox unit. She has advanced through several positions at Meridian, beginning with overseeing the Detox unit in 2002, to her current role of Vice President with Medication Assisted Treatment programs. Sara has been instrumental in the development and implementation of four medication assisted treatment clinics and two outpatient detox clinics that serve Meridian's patients that are in need of these services. Sara is also an active member of AATOD (American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence), FATOD (Florida Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence) and NAMA recovery (National Alliance of Methadone Advocates).

(352) 374-5600, 8975

Joe Munson

Vice President, Prevention & Community Education

Joe has over 15 years specializing in Crisis Intervention, Suicide Prevention, Diagnosis and Assessment of Mental Health disorders, Addiction Treatment and Non-Profit Management. His doctoral research from the University of Florida is published in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research. He holds a Doctorate in Counselor Education and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is also a certified trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA- Adult & Youth). Joe currently coordinates all of Meridian’s efforts to provide MHFA in the community and has provided these trainings since 2012. Additionally, he has been teaching counseling and human service courses in higher education since 2002 and he currently holds status as Adjunct Professor at Saint Leo University. Joe also stays involved with local community efforts sitting on boards of the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida, the Health Promotion and Wellness Coalition, and AMI Kids in Gainesville.

352-374-5600, 8270

Alan Paulin

Vice President, Residential Services

Alan is currently a member of the Drug Endangered Children Task Force (DEC), certified as a DEC trainer and Mental Health First Aid Youth and Adult Instructor. Through the years Alan has been involved in community efforts to support drug prevention, HIV/AIDS awareness, and domestic violence shelters. He received the 2009 Leadership Award at Meridian recognizing his efforts in promoting strength-based recovery techniques. Formerly, Alan operated a tree farm business in North Carolina, was a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and professional musician. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology; Masters of Science in Clinical Social Work.

352-374-5600, 8130

Tom Rossow

Vice President, Facilities

Tom has been in the health care field for 16 years with new construction and renovation experience. Tom is a results-oriented person, whose drive and sense of urgency are tempered and disciplined by his strong concern for accuracy and quality of the details of any work for which he is responsible.

352-374-5600, 8962

Donald Savoie

Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer

Don has been at Meridian since 2011, previously working as Chief Information Officer of the Providence Center and as Chief Technology Officer of Lavender & Wyatt Systems, Inc. With over 20 years of healthcare technology experience managing technical, professional services, customer support and development teams, his specialties include: healthcare technology, technology consulting, software development, business operations client services and technology implementation and sales. Don has a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and mathematics from Rhode Island College.

352-374-5600, 8366

Karen Savoie

Vice President, Billing & Collections

Karen’s qualifications include over 20 years of billing and collection experience in the healthcare industry. She has particular expertise in behavioral health and substance abuse, having the opportunity to work in non-profit and for-profit environments. Karen's focus is on reviewing programs to maximize potential and ensuring accurate billing.

352-374-5600, 8185

Morelle Sinclair

Vice President of Finance and Accounting/Comptroller

Appointed Vice President of Finance and Accounting/Comptroller in July 2016, Morelle is responsible for executing Meridian's financial practices in accordance state and federal standards. Previous to joining Meridian's accounting department earlier in 2016, she served as an accountant for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Blocker's Furniture and Carpet in Ocala. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Master of Business Administration from Hofstra University in New York.

(352) 374-5600, 8293

Linda Skalsky, ARNP, PMHC-BC, MSN

Vice President of Acute Care Services/ Director of Nursing

Linda joined Meridian in 2011 as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and took on the role of Director of Nursing in 2015, winning the “I Am Meridian” Award for Excellence in the same year. Prior to starting at Meridian, Skalsky was a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Archways Behavioral Health, in Fort Lauderdale, and has 20 years experience in the field. Linda received both the Bachelor- and Master of Science degrees in Nursing from Florida International University. She’s currently a Doctoral candidate in Nursing at University of North Florida.

374-5600, 8306

Melisa Urrutia

Vice President, Health Information Services

(352) 374-5600, 8988

Leah Vail. M.A.

Vice President, Forensic Services

Leah joined Meridian in 2005 as a 916 Forensic Specialist, becoming the Forensic Program Director in 2007. In her new role, she will oversee all forensics programs including the Criminal Justice Mental Health Substance Abuse Grant, Comprehensive Offender Reentry Programs and related state-funded forensic programs and services covering Meridian's 10-county area. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in social gerontology from New Mexico State University and a master's degree in psychology from National Louis University. Additionally, she is also completing her Master of Business Administration atSt. Leo University, with an anticipated graduation of spring, 2017.

(352) 374-5600, 8927

Tonia Werner

Vice President, Medical Services/Chief Medical Officer

(352) 374-5600, 8155

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