Wes Mason – President
Wes Mason, the President and founder of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems (Meridian) has over 17 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 Meridian 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 Meridian.
Chris Frater – Cheif Financial Officer
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, Chris 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.
Edward F. Littlejohn – Chief Operating Officer
Edward F. Littlejohn joins Meridian Behavioral Health Systems as the companies Chief Operating Officer.
Edward comes to Meridian from Fountain Valley Regional, a 400-bed acute care facility, and is part of Tenet Healthcare Corp. and among the largest hospitals in Orange County. It ranked No. 9 on the Business Journal list of the largest hospitals and generating more than $400 million in net revenue for 2016 with about 1,600 employees. Edward was responsible for day-to-day operations to ensure the continued growth of the hospital’s award-winning, highly accredited services and strengthening the facility’s mission, standards and values. Fountain Valley Regional also made the list of the “best hospitals” in California compiled by U.S. News & World Report, ranking No. 42 in the state and No. 22 in the Los Angeles metro area.
Edward previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, leading its health plan and hospital operations. Edward was responsible for developing a North County integrated delivery system for Kaiser San Diego to include physician integration, hospital contracts, 10 non-Kaiser hospital surgical contracts, north county membership growth (Medicare & Commercial), marketing, 7 north county Medical Office Buildings, surgical services for the service area, and managing a $450 million out of network medical utilization budget. San Diego is Kaiser’s Largest service area in Kaiser Permanente’s program, serving over 520,000 members, 8300+ staff and physicians, a 414 bed hospital, 22 Medical Office Buildings generating annual revenue of $3 Billion.
Earlier in his career, Edward was the Chief Operating Officer for John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell, VA, a 147-bed community hospital owned and operated by HCA (Hospital Corporation of America). During his tenure he served as the interim CEO, developed an urgent care center, established a Hospitalist Program, and launched an Ambulatory Surgery Center joint venture with local physicians.
Edward holds a master of public health degree in health policy and management from Columbia University in New York and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from California State University, Northridge. A native Californian, Edward enjoys traveling, playing golf and spending time with his wife, son and daughter Monica, Eddie and Kennedy.
Mike Godwin – Vice President
Mike Godwin is the Vice President of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems specializing in Human Resources and other compliance and/or business projects. Prior to working with Meridian, for seven years he was the Vice President of Human Resources for Eggleston, a 700 employee not for profit agency with 18 locations that provides group home residential services and works to empower and employ people with disabilities. Mike also worked as an HR executive for over five years for Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. and has over six years of other company operations, sales and HR experience.
Mike has a Master’s in Business Administration with an International Business concentration from the University of South Carolina. He studied in Dublin, Ireland as well as Columbia and Charleston, SC. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a Business minor from the University of Florida. He has also served as an adjunct professor in the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources Management degree program for Georgetown University and currently works as an adjunct professor for Old Dominion University for the Strome College of Business. He is the former President of the Hampton Roads Society for Human Resource Management and is a current Board member for the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and a past Board member for the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.
Mike holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) and the Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) Human Resources national certifications.
Brian T. Hemmert – Vice President Govermental Relations
Currently serving as the Vice President Governmental Relations, Brian T. Hemmert MS, has over 15 years of executive healthcare experience. Brian brings a unique background to Meridian Behavioral Health Systems. Starting as a direct care worker he has worked throughout the continuum of behavioral health services, in large for profit and non-profit settings.
As a clinician, Brian has operated and or overseen operations ranging from inpatient psychiatric care facilities, to outpatient clinics. His focus and attention has always been on providing quality cost effective services, with strong emphasis on the patient and family experience which leads to strong outcomes.
Donna Moen – Vice President Quality Assurance
Prior to joining Meridian in 2013, Donna managed and developed treatment programs in Wisconsin and South Carolina including co-ownership of a private school and residential facility for children with Autism.
Donna possesses a vast knowledge of inpatient psychiatric standards and residential programing for children and adolescents with severe emotional problems (including at risk youth and children with Developmental Disorders)
Joshua A. Smith – Vice President
Josh Smith currently serves as VP of Indiana Operations. Josh has over 14 years of for-profit behavioral healthcare management experience. Before joining Meridian, Josh worked for one of the largest providers of behavioral health services in the country, overseeing individual and multi-site operations in both inpatient acute psychiatric and child & adolescent residential care. In his current role, Josh oversees facility start-up and acquisition functions for Meridian Behavioral Health Systems and all of its subsidiaries.
Throughout his years of experience, Josh has effectively developed 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 operations throughout the changes and challenges that continue to exist in this dynamic industry. Josh remains steadfast and committed to the core Values and Mission of Meridian and providing superior clinical services to those in need.
While Josh’s current day to day focus has been on acquisitions, regulatory compliance, operations, and human resource systems. His philosophy for success in the behavioral health industry is based upon a belief that a holistic, strengths-based treatment modality in a home-like environment is key to helping patients and residents acquire the tools they need to have a happy and healthy lifestyle outside of inpatient and residential treatment.