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.

Michael Tingley, MPH

Program Coordinator

Michael is the Program Coordinator for Bristol Eliminating Substance Use Together. Previously, he was the Prevention Coordinator at Youth and Family Services of Haddam-Killingworth. He was in charge of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Prevention in Connecticut Communities grant. Prior to that he was the Prevention Specialist at Connecticut Clearinghouse, a program of the Connecticut Center for Prevention, Wellness and Recovery at Wheeler Clinic. He worked closely with statewide prevention leaders to implement a broad spectrum of strategies to address the prevention and health promotion needs of communities within the state. He currently serves on the board of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Farmington Valley.

Michael earned his BS in marketing communications at Emerson College, minoring in health communications. In 2017, he earned his master’s degree in public health at the University of Connecticut. A native of Enfield, Michael spent time living in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. He currently resides in Simsbury, Connecticut.

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

How We Accomplish Our Mission

BEST plans to use a comprehensive approach to achieve its goals. In order to make an impactful and lasting difference, the entire community–parents, teachers, youth, police, health care providers, faith communities, business and civic leaders and others–have to be involved and working together. Once this is accomplished, specific prevention initiatives and programs can then be planned.

If you would like a more detailed look into the types of strategies that coalitions like BEST use to promote drug-free communities, check out these links.


Our People: Coalition's 12 Sector Leaders

  • Business Sector

    Katie D’Agnostino

    Vice President of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce

     

    Katie D’Agostino is currently serving as the Vice President for the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. Katie has been a staff member of the Chamber since 2017.

    Prior to joining the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, Katie spent seventeen years in the private sector as a project and marketing leader executing marketing programs aligned with strategic objectives. Eight of those years were spent in various levels of roles at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield working with the Public Sector market for most of her tenure. Katie moved from Insurance to Brokerage assisting Lockton Companies Northeast clients with marketing plans which would make open enrollment plan selections easier to understand for their employees. Following that, Katie became an Assistant Vice President Marketing Specialist at Webster Bank where her primary focus was the communication initiatives for several lines of business.

    Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the Wolcott Chamber of Commerce, American Clock & Watch Museum, and Tunxis Community College Civic Engagement Institute Advisory Board, is CoChair of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Duck Race, and an active committee member on Bristol Central High School Governance, Bristol Technical Advisory Council, and Bristol Eliminating Substance Use Together Coalition.

    Katie lives in Bristol, Connecticut with her husband and son.

  • Government Sector

    Sarah Larson 

    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

    CJay Gibbs

    Bristol Eastern 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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  • 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

    Conor Burke 

    Prevention Specialist at Connecticut Clearinghouse

     

    Conor is currently the Prevention Specialist at Connecticut Clearinghouse a program under the Wheeler Clinic. He  is working with leaders in prevention and communities to address and promote ongoing health and wellbeing needs for across the state.

    Prior to that Conor worked with Western CT Coalition the Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization of Region 5. With Western CT Coalition Conor assisted with 26 local prevention councils in 43 towns in northwestern Connecticut.

    Conor earned his B.A in Illustration from Western Connecticut State University in 2021

  • Law Enforcement Sector

    Lt. Robert Osborne

    Bristol Police Department

     

  • Media Sector

    Erica Benoit

    Community Engagement Coordinator for Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth, and Community Services

     

    Erica Benoit works within the Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services (BPRYCS) Department as the Community Engagement Coordinator. Erica serves as liaison between the department and local/regional media outlets as well as represents BPRYCS at local events, promotional opportunities, and community programs. Erica joined BEST as the Media Sector Representative in 2020 and brings six years of experience to the Coalition with a background in experiential marketing, sponsorships, events, and media relations working on wide ranging projects that include everything from community trail cleanups and fundraisers to brand partnerships for Fortune 500 companies. Erica is excited to leverage her role within the department, relationships, and experiences to help bring awareness to the BEST Coalition and substance misuse.