About Us

Bristol Eliminating Substance Use Together (BEST)

Teaming Up for a Drug Free Community

Bristol Eliminating Substance Use Together (BEST) is a Drug-Free Community Coalition that began in the early 1990s as the Bristol Youth Prevention Council. In the years since, the Coalition’s name may have changed, but its focus on reducing youth substance misuse has remained constant.

Deedra Willingham, MHS

Project Associate

Deedra works alongside Michael as the Project Associate for Bristol Eliminating Substance Use Together.  Deedra was the Project Associate for the Town of Manchester for numerous years under the Strategic Partnership Framework grant. At that time, she worked directly with the youth and assisted with spreading prevention messages around Manchester. Deedra obtained her MHS in 2018 from Albertus Magnus College. Prior to that she received her BA in Sociology, minoring in Management Information Systems from Central Connecticut State University. Deedra grew up in Bloomfield and currently resides in Bristol.  She is looking forward to doing great work right in the town she lives in.

Our Mission & Vision

Our Mission is to work toward unifying the community to promote wellness through increasing education, implementing strategies and enforcing policy to prevent substance misuse by youth and those who impact their development.

Our Vision is to develop a culture of awareness and sustained action that will promote positive youth development and a healthier community.

Our Purpose

1. To engage and collaborate with the community
2. To prevent as many Bristol youth as possible from turning to drugs and alcohol

Our People: Coalition's 12 Sector Leaders

  • Business Sector

    Scott Rosado

    Local Business Owner


  • Government Sector


    Sarah Larson, MS

    Deputy Superintendent of Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth & Community Services

    Sarah Larson is the Deputy Superintendent for Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Recreation Administration from Southern Connecticut State University. Born and raised in Bristol, she is passionate about implementing solution-based problem solving to improve the quality of life of Bristol residents.

  • Youth Chair & Youth Sector Representative


    Renee Singleton

    St. Paul Catholic High School Student

  • School Sector

    Sara Hale

    Teaching Dean of Physical Education and Health

  • Religious Sector

    Pastor Todd Williams (Co-Chair)

    Bridge Community Church

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  • Civic/Volunteer Organization Sector


    Chad Layton

    Elks Club

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    Chad grew up in Terryville and graduated from Terryville High School.

    As a parent and grandparent, Chad wants to help our community, especially our youth, make good choices when it comes to the use of alcohol and misusing substances. Chad is the Civic Chair of the BEST Coalition, a member of the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force, Chairman of the Elks Drug Awareness Program and District Chairman for the Northwest Elks District.

    Chad welcomes anyone who wants to help our Bristol community to come to a meeting and see how you can help.

  • Healthcare Professional Sector


    Angelika Karwowski, MPH

    Program Manager at Bristol-Burlington Health District

    Angelika studied Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut and continued with school to pursue her Master’s in Public Health at Sacred Heart University. She is the program manager at the Bristol-Burlington Health District. She now focuses on community health, wellness and data and statistics with the goal of implementing programs that are needed in the community. She is also certified in QPR and is a Tobacco Treatment Specialist as well as a Freedom from Smoking Clinic Facilitator. Angelika joined BEST as a Sector Representative in 2020 and has focused her efforts on applying relevant Bristol substance use data and statistics towards the coalitions meetings.

  • Parent Sector

    Anicia Lockhart

    Mother & CCAR Volunteer

    Anicia is elated to have an opportunity to participate in the BEST Coalition. As a volunteer for Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in Hartford, Anicia has had the opportunity to be immersed in the recovery community. As a mom of teenage children she is not only responsible to educate and guide them, but to bring awareness about prevention. Anicia has had many years of experience working in the school system and also as an advocate for her own family and others in the community. It has become a passion of hers to bring awareness, share information on successful programs and advocate for support services. Anicia looks forward to participating in the BEST program and being a voice for substance abuse prevention.

  • Youth Serving Sector

    Samantha Rajotte (Co-Chair)

    Scholarship & Program Officer at Main Street Community Foundation

    Meet BEST Co-Chair, Samantha Rajotte. Samantha is the Scholarship & Program Officer at Main Street Community Foundation, which enhances the quality of life for both present and future generations in the communities of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott. Samantha assists with Foundation grant-making, specifically the Foundation’s scholarship program, as well as communications efforts. She joined BEST as a Sector Representative in 2017 and was nominated to Co-Chair in 2019. Sam has contributed her time on the Coalition’s Media Sub Committee and Event Planning Sub Committee. This year, Sam formed the By Laws Committee, ensuring the Coalition has a set of guiding set of principals and values. Sam’s passion for youth substance use prevention is contagious.  Her role on the Coalition is vital as she leads the community in the uphill battle of prevention. She is a respected contributor to the City of Bristol Drug Free Communities Coalition, BEST.

  • Other Organization Involved with Reducing Substance Use Sector

    David Ruela

    Program Coordinator at Amplify



  • Law Enforcement Sector

    Lt. Robert Osborne

    Bristol Police Department

    Robert C. Osborne is the Community Relations Commander for the Bristol Police Department.  In that capacity he sits on numerous nonprofit boards and coordinates the police department’s social media presence.  LT. Osborne supervises the police department School Resource Officers that are assigned to Bristol Public Schools.  LT. Osborne joined BEST in 2021.  He previously taught DARE in the Bristol Public Schools & St. Joseph Elementary School.  LT. Osborne was previously involved with the City of Bristol Youth Services conducting outdoor activities with young adolescents.  He strives to make youth substance prevention an easier conversation for youth to have with adults.  LT. Osborne is a valued supporter of the City of Bristol Drug Free Communities Coalition,  BEST.

  • Media Sector

    Johnny Burnham

    Vice President, Marketing & Operations at Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce