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photo: Allison Hill

Lakeview Center CEO Retires and Welcomes Successor

Pensacola, Fla. (October 17, 2016) – Allison Hill has been named the chief executive officer of Lakeview Center, Inc., making her only the third CEO in its 62-year history. She will assume the new role on December 1, 2016 and replace Gary Bembry who is retiring after 19 years with the social services agency.

“My tenure at Lakeview and within the Baptist Health Care (BHC) system of care has been the high point of my career,” said Bembry. “Working with such an incredible group of people who chose to follow their passions to help others overcome life's challenges, has been an extremely rewarding experience.”

Bembry came to Lakeview Center in 1997 as the CFO, and in 2003 he took on strategic planning and other executive duties as its second CEO. Over the years, Lakeview Center has grown operations beyond traditional behavioral health services such as vocational services and child protective services. In 2012, the three-story 48,600 square-foot Melba B. Meyer Children's Services Center was opened to enhance service by offering all outpatient services for children in a single location.

Another innovative, long-term solution implemented under his direction is the Lakeview Associated Enterprises (LAE) endeavor. The home office of the for-profit entity is located in Tampa, Florida and comprises revenue-generating Dairy Queens that 100 percent support the nonprofit Mission of the Lakeview agency. Also under Bembry’s leadership the organization achieved three consecutive CARF accreditations for quality service. Bembry catapulted the Lakeview budget from $34 million in 1997 to $250 million today.

“We will miss Gary's outstanding leadership, but he’s leaving Lakeview in a good place, and we’re pleased to have such a strong and well-prepared candidate in Allison to succeed him,” said Mark Faulkner, president and CEO, Baptist Health Care.

The Lakeview Center Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jarl “J.T.” Young, said, “Allison’s ascension into the CEO position assures a smooth transition in our leadership. She has spent most of her professional life here and understands that our organization is about people helping people. Allison is a phenomenal leader in that regard.”

Hill, who grew up in Gulf Breeze, Florida, came to Lakeview Center after a 10-year span at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland and Gund accounting firm. She served Lakeview Center as chief financial officer for 11 years. Then in 2014, she became chief operating officer assuming responsibility for translating Lakeview Center’s strategic vision into daily operations. As the new CEO, Hill will lead a team of approximately 3,000 employees.

“Gary has been an incredible mentor and is leaving a wonderful legacy,” said Hill. “It's a great honor to be chosen to lead such an incredible group of people. I'm blessed to work with so many team members that are passionate about our mission of helping people and show that commitment every day. I can’t think of a better place to work, and I’m excited about our future.”

Lakeview Center’s origins date back to May 11, 1954 when Pensacola civic leaders opened a small basement clinic chartered to “provide psychological and psychiatric services for children with personality, emotional or social difficulties.”

The clinic was founded with a donation from the Junior Women’s Club. With the passage of the 1963 Community Mental Health Act, federal funding became available for the construction and staffing of mental health centers in cities across the United States. Within three years, the board of directors for the clinic developed plans with local hospitals, advocacy groups and state agencies to open a comprehensive community mental health center in Pensacola. Using federal grants, local matching funds and land donated by Baptist Hospital, the three-building facility was completed in July 1968. On Jan. 24, 1969, the Clinic’s name was changed to the Community Mental Health Center of Escambia County.

As new needs were identified and funding became available, services and programs were added to include: alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services, a clinic for learning disabilities, drug abuse treatment services, a 24-hour telephone crisis counseling service, halfway houses for people returning from state psychiatric hospitals, specialized programs for adolescents, and a rape crisis center.

In 1982 the organization was re-named Lakeview Center to reduce stigma and reflect its diversity of services. In 1996 Lakeview became affiliated with Baptist Health Care, which made the agency responsible for operations at The Friary in Gulf Breeze and Avalon Center in Milton.

An affiliate of Baptist Health Care, Lakeview Center Inc. is a network of behavioral health, vocational and child protective services. These services address a broad spectrum of human needs, reflecting a longstanding commitment to helping people overcome life's challenges.

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