PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announces the appointment of Andrew R. Best Jr. D.P.A., MPA, MSS, LSW as their new Director for the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction (SUPHR). SUPHR is the division in the Health Department that works to alleviate the ongoing overdose crisis throughout the city. Their work is a combination of public health data tracking, innovative harm reduction activities, and community engagement.

Even though Dr. Best’s ultimate goal has always been to administer and manage public health care programs, much of his work for the past eight years has been in various capacities for the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services. His roles there have provided him with extensive one-on-one engagement with victims of substance use and homelessness. Dr. Best says, “This work helped me to understand the tremendous importance of first getting hands-on exposure to the work being done in the field before moving on to any critical administrative roles.”

According to Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Frank Franklin, “Dr. Best’s administrative background in substance use prevention and homelessness services and his frontline experience as a practicing clinician uniquely positions him as a timely asset to strategically shape the Department’s effort to enhance substance use prevention capacity and broaden harm reduction efforts in the city.”

Most recently, Dr. Best served as the Health Program Manager for the Single County Authority (SCA) Operations Unit. In this role, Dr. Best’s broad practical experience with behavioral issues qualified him to manage substance use prevention, early intervention, recovery support, and treatment programming, in addition to grants implementation, contract/program monitoring, and fiscal management for the SCA.

Dr. Best earned a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University at a time when he wanted to serve the needs of the at-risk community as a lawyer and advocate. However, as a child who had firsthand exposure to those in need of help navigating the public health system due to substance abuse issues, Dr. Best decided that he could better serve that community by administering and managing the programs providing these services. So, he obtained a Master of Public Administration from West Chester University and became a licensed Clinical Social Worker from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. He later earned a Doctor of Public Administration from West Chester University where his dissertation focused on comparing adolescent rates of prescription opioid use and implementation dates of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).

Dr. Best’s roots are in North Carolina, but he calls Philadelphia home where he remains deeply committed to working with marginalized communities to ensure adequate access to healthcare, behavioral health services, food, housing, and education. Dr. Best believes “we are at a pivotal moment in history as it pertains to substance use prevention and harm reduction services in Philadelphia; my goal is to make sure that these services are readily accessible and available to all Philadelphians.”