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 and are responsible for Meridian’s North Central Florida service area with over 800 employees.
Our team is passionate, professional and inspiring. Learn more about our employees passion here: Meridian Passion
President/ Chief Executive Officer
Don is a Healthcare executive with over 30 years as a leader in behavioral healthcare, management, implementation, and growth development. He balances a quality patient care focus with strategic priorities and operational demands. He has a keen focus on mobilizing and empowering staff to develop and achieve goals in alignment with organizational mission, vision, and values using transformational leadership. Don's journey in behavioral healthcare began with his BA in Computer Sciences and Mathematics from Rhode Island College in 1989. He was immediately hired as the Chief Information Officer of The Providence Center, where he worked for 11 years. He later served as Lavender & Wyatt Systems, Inc.’s Chief Technology Officer for almost 13 years. He took on a similar role within Meridian in 2011. With significant business and operational expertise he was promoted to the role of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) in 2016 and then appointed as President/ Chief Executive Officer of Meridian in 2019.
Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer
Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) in 2004 with a BA in Criminology. She is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Lauren has worked in the mental healthcare industry for over 15 years, starting out as a frontline mental health service provider before moving into program management, and eventually risk management, positions. She first served as the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) at Meridian, where she was responsible for regulatory compliance, identifying opportunities and risk mitigation strategies, developed quality improvement plans, worked closely with program managers to achieve key performance measures, and evaluated clinical care to ensure the best possible client outcomes. As the Chief Operating Officer, her current role at Meridian, she overseas medical services, primary care, and support services and ensures the effective operation of these programs.
Senior Vice President/Chief Clinical Officer
Richard received his Bachelor’s in Psychology in 1980. In 1981 Richard was awarded a President’s Minority Scholarship and Federal Traineeship award to attend the University of Florida, where he earned his Master of Health Sciences degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Richard attained a certification as an Addictions Professional and as an Evaluator Supervisor for the State of Florida. He is active in community and statewide organizations; he is currently Vice President for the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. Richard joined Meridian in 1981 and has held his current position since 2006. As Chief Clinical Officer, Richard oversees a full continuum of mental health and addiction programs for adults and children.
Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer
John attended Augustana College, where he obtained his BA in Accounting and Business Management in 1987. He would later attend Northern Illinois University and receive his MBA in 1991. Since this time, John has worked in industrial accounting, managing annual budgets both small and large - most notably, upwards of $60 million. John was hired by Meridian as the Vice President of Finance and Accounting/Comptroller in 2014 and was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2016. With close to 30 years of experience in financial accounting for businesses, John has extensive knowledge and skill surrounding: financial management, analysis, and reporting, strategic planning, internal controls, and process improvement.
Senior Vice President, Clinical & Community Services
Alan earned a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida (UF) in 1985, a MS in Clinical Social Work, also from UF, in 2005, and he has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) since 2012. Alan joined Meridian in 1997 as a children’s case manager, before moving up to Case Management Program Manager, and was recently appointed Senior Vice President of Clinical and Community Services. Alan has been involved in community efforts to support drug abuse prevention, domestic violence shelters, and HIV/AIDS awareness. He is a member of the Drug Endangered Children Task Force (DEC), certified as a DEC trainer, and a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Youth and Adult Instructor.
Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer
Joy attained a BA in Political Science from the University of Florida (UF) in 2000, a MA in Business from Webster University in 2003, a senior level certification as an International Advancement Professional (IAP-S) in 2004, and became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) in 2018. For close to 20 years, she has served on executive teams at various mission-driven organizations, creating, implementing, and leading growth strategies designed to further organizational goals, build brand identity, and enhance relationships with stakeholders, especially in the communities being served. Her expertise in organizational advancement is the reason Meridian recruited her as the Chief Development Officer (CDO) in 2017.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
Vice President of Outpatient Services North
Latifa joined Meridian in 2018 as the Clinical Director of our Live Oak, Jasper, Mayo clinic. She has since worked her way up and is now the VP of Outpatient Services for our Northern clinics. She holds an MS and MBA, and is an LMHC. She has been in the mental health field since 2007, and in management for over 20 years. She brings unlimited knowledge and is an asset to our agency.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vice President, Chief Information Officer
Melisa joined Meridian in 2005 and started as an HIM Specialist. Over the last 12 years, she has served Meridian as a Billing and Finance Clerk, Contracts Manager, Billing and Collections Manager, EMR Director, Vice President of Health Information Services, and is currently serving as Vice President and Chief Information Officer. As CIO, her teams include technology, technical infrastructure, business intelligence, data analytics, electronic medical records, and health information management. The work involves planning, implementation, and support of innovations as well as ongoing health information operations across the organization. While often leveraging technology for improvement, the focus is always on improving the delivery of care.