Leadership & Management
Wes Mason, the President and founder of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems (MBHS) has over 12 years of executive experience in behavioral health. Wes has worked for many large private and publicly traded behavioral health care systems in both operation and executive management positions. Wes’ motivation and inspiration for the creation of MBHS primarily comes from his late father who spent his career as a psychologist helping others. Wes’ father taught him three lessons to live by:
- Human Responsibility – All individuals make mistakes and deserve a Second Chance. If you are in a position to help others it is your human responsibility to do so in a compassionate manner.
- Positive Cultural Expectation – The expectation surrounding an individual can positively influence any individual in making positive choices. These expectations are inclusive of self, family, school/work, social environment and community.
- Strengths Based Approach – When dealing with family, children, colleagues, employees, or neighbors you utilize a strength- based approach that allows everyone to bring something “to the table.” When adhered to this approach allows you to, appreciate each and every perspective.
These life lessons led Wes to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in behavioral health, primarily working with youth. As he entered the behavioral health field, Wes quickly established himself as a natural leader with good clinical and financial instincts. This combination fostered his success in behavioral health executive management. Having worked primarily for publicly traded corporations, Wes has seen the erosion of values and decreasing emphasis on safety and quality of care to satisfy the need for increasing revenue/profits to continuously keep “Wall Street” happy. While the need to have a good business model and make a strong profit is the cornerstone of any company, it cannot be done at the expense of the patient or the employees. Profits and stock price cannot become more important than taking care of people. The constant sale and acquisition of companies does not necessarily translate to what is best for the patients, communities and the staff working in the facilities.
The opportunity to run profitable facilities that incorporate “best practices” in the behavioral health industry, without the constant, unrealistic mandates of a large corporation, is the primary mission behind the creation of MBHS. With that goal in mind, Wes identified two other proven leaders in the behavioral health field who share his vision to join him on the executive team of MBHS:
Cherie D. Tolley, MA has over 35 years experience working in the behavioral health field, having started her career in the public sector working in all aspects of mental health and child welfare in both SC and California. After 16 years in the public sector, Tolley took a position in the private sector working for Willowglen Academy as an executive manager of one of their larger programs in SC. In 2002 she joined Palmetto Behavioral Health as an executive manager and in 2007 was named CEO of the Palmetto Behavioral Health System. In 2008 she was selected as one of the “Top Three Women in Business” in the Charleston area in the CEO category. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Charleston
Chamber of Commerce, Trident United Way and the Hospice Foundation of Charleston and SC Youth Workers Association. She has presented at over 20 conferences related to clinical programming in residential programs and is currently an Adjunct Faculty member of Limestone College. Over the years she has served on numerous task forces in SC to improve service delivery to youth and improve outcomes. Like Wes, Cherie has experienced the acquisition of behavioral facilities. As such, she shares Wes’ vision and desire to operate in a setting free from rigid, impractical and impersonal corporate mandates.
Chris Frater currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for Meridian Behavioral Health Systems. Mr. Frater brings over 12 years of for profit and non-profit financial behavioral healthcare experience. Before joining Meridian, Mr. Frater worked for one of the largest providers of behavioral health services in the country, overseeing individual and multi site operations.
In the role of CFO, Chris oversees the day to day fiscal operation and management of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems and all of its subsidiaries. Throughout his years of experience, Chris has effectively developed several financial management systems, he is also keenly aware of the ever-changing dynamics of the behavioral health industry, and works diligently to ensure the stability of the company’s finances throughout the changes and challenges that continue to exist in this dynamic industry. Mr. Frater remains steadfast and committed to the core Values and Mission of MBHS and providing superior clinical services to those in need.
The behavioral health expertise and business acumen of the MBHS executive leadership team provides a strong basis to develop and operate a successful behavioral health care company.
It is essential that MBHS become a vital part of the community in which it operates. Providing jobs in areas where there is a need and integrating the facility as a vital part of the community will be a cornerstone of its operational focus. Giving back to the community will be a priority.