About Our TeamMeridian 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 employee’s 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. Lauren has worked in the mental healthcare industry for over 15 years, starting as a frontline mental health service provider before moving into program management positions and, eventually, risk management. She first served as Meridian's Chief Performance Officer (CPO). Lauren's roles entailed: regulatory compliance, identifying opportunities and risk mitigation strategies, developing quality improvement plans, working closely with program managers to achieve key performance measures, and evaluating clinical care to ensure the best possible client outcomes. In her current role as the Chief Operating Officer at Meridian, she oversees medical services, primary care, and support services and ensures the effective operation of these programs. Lauren is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
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
Teresa received her Bachelor’s in Accounting from Purdue University and her Masters of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She obtains a CPA license in Indiana, Louisiana, and Florida. She has over 25 years of experience in public accounting, manufacturing, and healthcare. While in Louisiana, she worked in behavioral health and hospital finance. As Meridian’s CFO, she oversees the accounting, accounts payable and billing departments.
Senior Vice President, Clinical & Community Services
Alan earned a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida (UF) in 1985, MS in Clinical Social Work, also from UF, in 2005, and 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 Drug Endangered Children Task Force (DEC) member, certified as a DEC trainer, and a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Youth and Adult Instructor.
Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer
Joy earned 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 2014, 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 what brought her to Meridian as the Chief Development Officer (CDO) in 2018.
Vice President, Residential Services
Christy received her Bachelor’s in Communications from Arizona State University in 1993 and completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology in 1999 from Pepperdine University. Christy is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She is also trained in EMDR, NLP, and Hypnosis. Prior to Meridian, Christy served as the Vice President of Community Services at a large non-profit in Southern California. She also founded her own treatment center. With more than 20 years in behavioral health, Christy has a proven track record of leadership and clinical excellence with both mental health and substance abuse.
Vice President, Medical Practice Management
Shantel began her career in Mental Health as a Certified Behavioral Technician. She provided direct care for nine years to individuals diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness. Shantel obtained a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Saint Leo University. She has received numerous awards at Meridian, including the 2014 and 2016 "I Am Meridian" Award, 2015 Supervisor of the Year, and a 2017 Meridian Rock Star recognition. Shantel is the Research Coordinator for a Prolapse Case Study, which focuses on preventing relapse in patients suffering from episodes or early-phase schizophrenia. She also serves on the Meridian Employee Engagement Committee and has recently 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 started 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 developing and implementing four medication-assisted treatment clinics and two outpatient detox clinics that serve Meridian's patients 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, Acute Care
Dr. Nguyen is double-board certified in Adult Psychiatry and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry. He completed medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, an internship at Baylor College of Medicine, a residency at Georgetown University, and a fellowship at the University of Florida. He joined Meridian in July 2016 after serving on faculty at the University of Florida for 15 years. During that time, his leadership positions included Medical Director for Child/Adolescent Psychiatry and Chief of the Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Services and Eating Disorders Recovery Center. He has presented on psychopharmacology and eating disorders at national and international conferences. Dr. Nguyen recently completed his MBA from the University of Florida and has served as Vice President for Acute Care Services since April 2017.
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 both a MS and MBA degrees and is also an LMHC. She has served in the mental health field since 2007 and in management for over 20 years. She brings unlimited knowledge and is a true asset to our agency.
Vice President, Facilities
Tom has served in the health care field for over 16 years with new construction and renovation experience. Tom is a results-oriented person. His drive and sense of urgency are tempered and disciplined by his strong concern for accuracy and quality of details of any work he is responsible for.
Linda Skalsky, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC
Vice President of Acute Care Services/ Director of Nursing
Linda joined Meridian in 2011 as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She took on the role of Director of Nursing in 2015, winning the “I Am Meridian” Award for Excellence in the same year. Before starting at Meridian, Skalsky was a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Archways Behavioral Health in Fort Lauderdale and has 20 years of experience. 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 the 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. She 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.