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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 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

Leadership Team

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Donald Savoie

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.

352-374-5600, 8366

Lauren Cohn

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.

(352) 374-5600, 8353

Kim Abbott

Senior Vice President / Chief Human Resources Officer

Kim acquired her BS in Secondary Education from Jacksonville State University before going on to gain her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of North Florida and a Master of Arts (MA) in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Florida. Kimberly holds a certificate in Human Resources Management (PHR) from the HR Certification Institute. Kimberly has served as director of HR programs at several notable companies, all prior to being promoted by Meridian as Chief Human Resources Officer in 2019. With more than 20 years of private and public sector experience in Human Resources, Kimberly has a solid background in cultural competence, diversity initiatives, employee relations, training and development, employment law and recruiting.

352-374-5600, 8252

Richard Anderson

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.

352-374-5600, 8232

Larry Frank

Senior Vice President / Chief Financial Officer

Larry earned his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and his Masters in Business Administration/Finance Concentration with high honors from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Larry has over 40 years of experience in finance and accounting, with the majority of that time spent working in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. Larry has worked as a senior member of fiscal operations including acute care hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient centers, and social service agencies. As Meridian’s CFO, he oversees the accounting, accounts payable and billing departments. Larry is a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

352-374-5600, 8283

Alan Paulin

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.

352-374-5600, 8130

Joy Riddle

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.

352-374-5600, 8218

Christine Block

Vice President, Residential Services

Christy received her Bachelor’s in Communications from Arizona State University in 1993. She 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.

(352) 374-5600, 8869

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

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

Latifa Ranganadan

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.

352-374-5600, 8420

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

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 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, 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.

(352) 374-5600, 8988

Tonia Werner

Vice President, Medical Services/Chief Medical Officer

(352) 374-5600, 8155

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