For someone with a now-extensive resume of experience in her field, the path wasn’t always direct. Fran Harding has served 12 years as the director for SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). She has held a number of national positions, including serving as president of the National Prevention Network and as a representative to New York’s board of directors for drug abuse prevention. But her work in the field of drug and alcohol abuse prevention began during her college years, before she found herself so interested in this line of work. Itwas 1982, andHarding’s planwas tobecome acollege administrator. She was a part of Student Affairs and the head of one of the campus residence halls. Serving in this leadership role, Harding was responsible for reporting any student behavior that violated the school’s code of conduct, including drug use and underage drinking. While serving in this leadership role, she noticed some school leaders and campus security officers weren’t upholding these requirements. She also noticed some of her fellow classmates who dealt with issues stemming from alcohol abuse eventually dropped out of school. She tried starting a campus group that addressed underage drinking, but she wasn’t getting the support and approval she needed to start the organization. Her concern and diligence around this matter soon grew into a passion that redirected her initial career plans. Harding’s work on campus and interest in alcohol education and prevention led her to move to New York after receiving an offer for a position with the state. She began working as the associate commissioner of theDivision of Prevention andRecoveryat theOffice of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. In this role, Harding drafted and created a number of policies aimed at preventing the abuse of alcohol, drugs as well as gambling. Working in this position allowed her to expand her duties into researching and addressing other issues surrounding alcohol misuse, like date rape. Fran Harding

In 2004, Harding received the Science to Practice Award from the International Society for Prevention Research. Throughout her years of work, a large responsibility has been to educate others, often convincing them of the importance of why they should care about the issues relating to drug and alcohol misuse. She has continued working with these individuals and leaders in the community, helping them understand how to monitor and advance this education within their cities. She has often met with law enforcement officers, speaking with them on how to promote education within the communities they serve. In New York, Harding helped develop a community coalition partnering with these agencies to push initiatives that worked specifically against driving under the influence. In 2008, Harding began working with SAMHSA and later became the center’s director. She’s placed a large focus on creating programs that introduce drug prevention practices during early education classes. Her extensive research in the field has given her the stage and spotlight to host a number of events promoting educational and prevention strategies. In an interview with the Campus Drug Prevention department, Harding spoke of why she and her team of researchers continue pushing diligently for education against drug and alcohol abuse: “I love talking about this, because we have a ton of success stories,” she said. “We have saved lives, and we will save lives.”

“We have saved lives, and we will save lives.”



Powered by