Patrick Tufts to be New Hampshire Governor's Alcohol and Drug Commission chair

  • Patrick Tufts will be the next chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention Ethan DeWitt—

Monitor staff
Friday, May 11, 2018

Patrick Tufts will be the next chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment, taking over from Annette Escalante.

Tufts, the president and CEO of Granite United Way, will take the helm of a powerful entity responsible for devising opioid prevention strategies and investing millions of dollars into solutions. He moves in after Escalante chose step down to focus on her role as director of the state’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, officials said Wednesday.

Before being chosen as the chairman on Wednesday, Tufts served as a citizen member of the Commission. 

“I’m the new guy, and I recognize that, but I have a lot of experience working on community organizing, working on very established commissions such as this one,” he said. “It’s going to be a team effort. There’s a lot of talent around the table. I have a lot to learn, but I also think I have a lot to offer.”

Tufts enters his role at a period of growth for the commission. Since 2000, state law has provided that five percent of the profits from the state Liquor Commission go to the commission for use in substance abuse prevention efforts, but lawmakers have consistently waived the rule and underfunded it. In April, the New Hampshire Hospital Association announced its members would collective contribute $50 million to the fund over the next five years, taking the place of liquor profits and significantly expanding the body’s budget. 

Gov. Chris Sununu expounded on the opportunities the money would create for innovative treatment approaches. But speaking Wednesday, Tufts declined to lay out priorities for the money, saying he would defer to the will of the body as a whole. 

“My early thoughts are that we need and we have a responsibility to use those dollars very wisely,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to have more resources to drive the outcomes that we need, but in terms of specific plans, I don’t have any yet.” 

In a statement, Sununu praised the choice of Tufts, whom he had recommended to the body.

“Patrick is a proven leader who will serve as an independent voice and will be a strong asset during this time of transition for the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Prevention & Recovery,” Sununu said. 

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)