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.
Dale (Elizabeth) Laing-Hall
Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
Dale earned her degree from Barry University with a BS in Health Service Administration in 2015. After working a few years in HR, Dale earned her degree in MS in 2017 from Nova Southeastern University in Human Resources Management. Dale (a.k.a. Elizabeth) has worked in the healthcare industry for over 10 years, starting out as a receptionist, HR coordinator, then eventually HR manager. Dale happily found herself assisting the HR department which eventually led her to being the bridge to building the employee-employer relationship in the workplace, something she really enjoys. She is an accomplished HR leader that values people and helping them thrive. She has over 12 years of experience in all things HR, and 18 years of customer service, working in various industry from education, juvenile detention centers to the cannabis market.
Dale recently joined the Meridian family as the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). In her current role as the CHRO at Meridian, she oversees the human resource strategy in support of the overall business plan and strategic direction of the organization, specifically in the areas of succession planning, talent management, change management, organizational and performance management, training and development, and compensation. Dale is also SHRM-CP certified.
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, Acute Care
Ashley joined Meridian in 2021, bringing nearly 10 years of leadership experience in the behavioral health field. She earned a BS in Psychology from Florida State University and after working as a child welfare case manager for a year, attended graduate school so she may work with children and families from a therapeutic perspective. After earning her MA in Mental Health Counseling, she worked toward licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), providing in-home counseling to children and families. It was soon after obtaining her LMHC, Ashley’s true calling became an opportunity when the agency she had been working for since obtaining her MA promoted her to Associate Director of their clinical services. Ashley has worked in leadership roles in Florida and Arizona, holding licensure in both states. She has experience overseeing behavioral health outpatient services, MAT clinics, residential facilities and has recently taken on the role of overseeing acute care services with Meridian.
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, 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.
Linda Skalsky, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC
Vice President, 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.
VP of Performance Management
VP of Residential Services
VP of Marketing
VP of Admissions
VP of Outpatient South