TMA 102nd Annual Meeting & Conference - Speaker Biographies
Christopher L. Casey
Chris Casey is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Swisher International, Inc., a leading manufacturer of cigars and smokeless tobacco products. Mr. Casey’s job responsibilities include advising the management team on a wide variety of legal and regulatory issues and he serves as the company’s principal point of contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. Mr. Casey is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cigar Association of America (“CAA”), a trade association representing manufacturers and importers of cigars as well as major suppliers to the industry, and serves on its Legal Affairs Committee. In the latter capacity, Chris works closely with CAA personnel, other member companies, and outside lawyers and consultants to address legislative and regulatory issues of concern to the cigar industry at the federal and state and local levels.
Head of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, PAX Labs
Gal Cohen is Head of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for PAX Labs, a vaporization technology company based in San Francisco, California, USA. He has over 25 years of experience in medical devices and biomedical engineering. His key industry experience includes product management and business development related to inhaled pharmaceuticals at Nektar Therapeutics and leading strategic planning for the diabetes division of Medtronic. Cohen has a Ph.D. in neuroscience/cellular and molecular physiology from Stanford University, where he was a Hughes Fellow. He graduated with honors and distinction from Stanford with an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Vice President of External Affairs, Turning Point Brands, Inc.
Brittani Cushman is the Vice President of External Affairs for Turning Point Brands, parent company of National Tobacco Company, VaporBeast and Intrepid Brands, of Louisville, Kentucky. Ms. Cushman is responsible for the management of regulatory and legislative issues at both the federal and state levels. Ms. Cushman provides industry leadership among like-sized manufacturers, advising on regulatory issues as they emerge and placing those issues in the context of both the current science and complex landscape of the vaping and tobacco industries. Ms. Cushman currently serves on the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) Board of Directors, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) Board of Directors, and the Pipe Tobacco Council Board of Directors. She also participates in the Cigar Association of America, the Coalition of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers of America (CITMA), and the Small Business Cigar Coalition (SBCC).
Ms. Cushman has a B.S.B.A. in Business Management from The University of Tulsa and a J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law. She previously served as General Counsel for a tobacco product manufacturer, handling all legal affairs.
James E. Dillard III
Senior Vice President - Research, Development and Regulatory Affairs, Chief Innovation Officer, Altria Group, Inc.
Jim Dillard serves as Altria Group’s Senior Vice President, Research, Development and Regulatory Affairs, and Chief Innovation Officer. He leads the Research, Development & Engineering department in the creation of products and technologies for Altria’s tobacco operating companies. He also leads the execution of FDA-related tobacco compliance, regulatory reporting, regulatory sciences and engagement activities for Altria's family of companies. In addition, Jim leads work related to building Altria’s innovation capabilities. He has held this position since January 2016 and previously held the position of Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Altria Client Services, since 2009.
Jim also served as Senior Vice President, Manufacturing, Science and Technology, for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, an Altria Group operating company. He joined USSTC in December 2001.
Between 1987 and 2001, Jim worked for the FDA, where he last served as Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Respiratory Devices. During his 14 years at the FDA, he held various leadership roles in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the Office of Device Evaluation, based in Rockville, Maryland.
Jim received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he also served as a board member for the Biomedical Engineering Department from 2000 to 2002.
Jim serves on the board of The Richmond Forum and is a past board member of the CenterStage Foundation of Richmond and the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra in Greenwich, Connecticut.
President, Policy Navigation Group
He has advised trade associations and Fortune 100 clients on regulatory policy issues for over ten years. Prior to founding Policy Navigation Group, Mr. Gledhill worked at The EOP Group in Washington, DC. Prior to The EOP Group, Mr. Gledhill worked in the Natural Resources Branch of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for over four years reviewing regulatory, policy, and economic issues. Mr. Gledhill was the primary analyst for all hazardous and solid waste regulations and policies for OMB. Other issue areas included Superfund, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, housing standards, and underground injection regulation. Mr. Gledhill was recognized and awarded for outstanding professional achievement each year of his employment at OMB.
Mr. Gledhill received a Master in Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with concentrations in science and public policy and the environment and public policy. Mr. Gledhill graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering. Mr. Gledhill also worked as an environmental engineer designing and operating drinking water and water treatment facilities.
President & CEO, TMA
Chris holds a Political Science degree from Gettysburg College and began his career in the regulatory compliance and government affairs sector at Verizon Wireless on the Legal & External Affairs Department's Law Enforcement Resource Team. Having served in numerous positions of increasing responsibility at Verizon, in 2010 Chris joined the tobacco industry and JT International U.S.A., Inc., as Regulatory Affairs Manager focusing on FDA compliance, external affairs and state/federal government relations for the US market. In 2016 Chris was named to the JTI USA executive team as Director and department head of Corporate Affairs & Communications for the US, Caribbean and Central American markets. In March of 2017, the TMA Board of Directors appointed Chris to his present role with a mandate to: (i) build upon TMA's strength as a member organization; (ii) further TMA's efforts at continuous improvement and evolution in step with the industry; and, (iii) foster TMA's role as a forum for information, analysis, ideas and gatherings serving the leaf, tobacco and vapor industries, regulators and stakeholders. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with his family, international travel, reading historical biographies, food and wine, skiing and attempting to play golf.
Matthew R. Holman, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Science
Matthew R. Holman, Ph.D. is currently Director of the Office of Science at the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He was appointed to that position in January 2017. The Office of Science at CTP is responsible for identifying, developing, and enhancing the science related to tobacco products, their use, and the resulting morbidity and mortality so that regulatory decisions will have the greatest impact on improving public health. To accomplish this goal, they provide the scientific support for regulations and guidance, review tobacco product applications, evaluate the knowledge basis for regulatory decisions, and carry out research to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge related to tobacco product regulation. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2000.
Before taking on his current position, Dr. Holman served as Director of the Division of Product Science within CTP’s Office of Science for six years. In this position, he oversaw evaluation of the composition and design of tobacco products. In addition, he was involved in chemical, microbiological, and engineering research on tobacco products, resulting in numerous publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. During this time, Dr. Holman also served as Technical Project Lead (TPL) in reviewing over a thousand SE Reports. As TPL, he was responsible for the overall scientific review of SE Reports by CTP. Before his tenure at CTP, he worked in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) on over-the-counter drug products. He served in a few positions within CDER, with his last position being Deputy Director of the Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development. In this role, he was involved in the publication of approximately 50 rulemakings, guidance documents, and other Federal Register notices.
Jon E. Huenemann
Vice President, U.S. & International Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris International (PMI) - Global Services Inc.
Mr. Huenemann joined this U.S. Fortune 100 Company in September 2010 and reports directly into top management. As a member of the company’s global corporate affairs management team, he is responsible for corporate affairs strategic direction around the world while also overseeing the Washington, D.C., office and U.S. affairs and the company’s external stakeholder relationships.
He brings over 30 years of experience to his role. Prior to his current position he coordinated an international practice group at a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm. Before that he was a Senior Vice President at a global public affairs consultancy. While in government he spent over 15 years within the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). He held the position of Assistant U.S. Trade Representative and led efforts on many topics. Earlier he served: as a Presidential Management Fellow in the International Affairs Bureau at the Department of the Treasury; as an international economic policy advisor to a senior Senator on the Senate Finance Committee; as a co-coordinator of a multilateral development project affiliated with the UN Development Program; and, he started his career in 1979 as a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is on boards of research institutions and business organizations and has taught/lectured in universities.
Mr. Huenemann resides with his family in Alexandria, Virginia.
Henry Michael Ligon
Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Universal Corporation
Mike Ligon has worked for Universal for 35 years and presently serves as Vice President, Corporate Affairs for Universal Corporation. Mike joined the company in June 1982 in the management training program with a subsidiary in North Carolina. Later, Mike was assigned to the leaf purchasing and sales departments in the United States and Central America. Subsequently in 1991, he became manager for Universal’s operations in Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina. In 1996 he was named Sales Director for Universal Leaf North America. Mike also worked in new business development, serving as President of America’s Harvest until 2008. At that time, he became head of corporate affairs. He works on government, regulatory, social and labor matters for the company.
Mr. Ligon is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a B.S. in Marketing Management. He is very active in the non-profit world, volunteering time and serving on several Boards, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Communities in Schools of Virginia and LEAD Virginia. He is also a Board Member of TMA, presently serving as Chairman. Mr. Ligon has devoted a significant amount of time to his church, Second Baptist Richmond.
A Virginia native from the town of Kenbridge in Lunenburg County, Mr. Ligon today resides in Henrico County with his wife, Sharon. They are the proud parents of two married daughters, Michelle and Nicole. Mike is passionate about family time and golf where he still enjoys competing in several local tournaments annually.
Necton D. Mhura
The new Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations, Necton D. Mhura, presented his credentials to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 9th September, 2016. From 2015 until his latest appointment, Mr. Mhura was his country’s Ambassador to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Between 2012 and 2015, he worked as a legal practitioner. With a background in law and academia, Mr. Mhura served as Deputy Chief Secretary to the Government of Malawi from 2010 to 2012 and as Commissioner of Lands for the country’s Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2010. Prior to those postings, he served as Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Malawi, Chancellor College, from 2004 to 2007, Acting Dean from 1997 to 2000 and Head of the Law Department from 1996 to 2002.
He also worked as a Lecturer in Law at the Malawi Polytechnic from 1995 to 1998, and at Chancellor College from 1994 to 2009. Having served as a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh from 1985 to 1988, Mr. Mhura holds a Master of Laws from the University of London and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Malawi.
Chris Proctor is British American Tobacco’s Chief Scientific Officer and Group Head of Scientific Product Stewardship, working at Research and Development in Southampton, UK. He is a PhD chemist with postdoctoral research experience at Cornell University, under a Fulbright scholarship, and the University of Kent. Chris joined BAT in 1983, working in research and development on analytical chemistry. In 1990 Chris left BAT to work as a senior scientific advisor to a law firm in Washington DC, before returning to BAT in 1993. Chris has represented BAT in public hearings on the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in front of the WHO’s Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation, has chaired two steering groups of the European Policy Centre on the use of science in regulatory decision making and better regulation, has recently presented at a scientific expert at US FDA workshops, and is a member of the American Chemical Society’s Corporation Associates.
Global Regulatory Strategy Vice President at Japan Tobacco
Michiel Reerink is Global Regulatory Strategy Vice President at Japan Tobacco International (JTI), a leading international tobacco company. Since 2010 he heads JTI’s Global Regulatory Strategy department at the Geneva, Switzerland, Headquarters, which coordinates the company’s strategy and responses to global regulatory issues, including plain packaging. He is also a regular speaker on tobacco regulatory topics and has, for example, presented to the European Parliament and the Irish Oireachtas (Parliament). Before joining JTI, he held various roles at Imperial Tobacco, with increasing responsibility for corporate affairs in the Benelux and Germany and the establishment and management of the company’s EU affairs office in Brussels.
Reerink holds a degree in Law from Leiden University in The Netherlands.
Gerard J. Roerty, Jr.
Gerard J. Roerty, Jr., Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Swedish Match North America, has been with the company since 1997. Prior to joining Swedish Match, he practiced at Mays & Valentine, L.L.P. in labor and employment litigation and commercial litigation.
A long-time resident of the Richmond, Virginia area, Mr. Roerty received his B.B.A., summa cum laude, in 1988 from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. in 1991 from Vanderbilt University. His family (wife, Julee, and daughter, Kyla) are very involved with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and the Children’s Miracle Network, striving to raise awareness of the unique medical needs of children with disabilities such as his daughter, Kyla.
Barry S. Schaevitz
Partner, Fox Rothschild
A former Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, Barry represents product manufacturers and industry trade associations in litigation, regulatory and legislative matters. He has defended clients in complex product liability matters involving medical, scientific, and other technical issues in courts throughout the country. His experience includes representing clients in cases involving questions of disease causation and addiction.
Barry also represents clients in matters involving federal regulation and federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. He similarly works with clients on a wide variety of regulatory matters before state agencies and departments.
In addition to working with clients to avoid or resolve litigation or regulatory issues, Barry also engages on federal and state legislative matters. In doing so, he meets with legislators and staff, and other public officials on matters of concern to clients.
Prior to joining Fox Rothschild, Barry was a partner at a boutique litigation and corporate law firm in New York City. As an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, he was a speechwriter for the Attorney General and also represented the city as trial counsel in a variety of litigation matters. Among the cases he handled successfully in this role was the representation of New York in a landmark desegregation case in federal court.
While in law school, Barry worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut.
David Schwartz has spent his entire career practicing law as a litigator and, for the past decade, as a lobbyist and advocate on behalf of businesses, trade associations, not-for-profits and individuals, while also actively mitigating criminal and civil cases. Whether it is in the courtroom defending and advocating on behalf of litigants in high profile criminal and civil cases or in the halls of the Capital, the same philosophy and attitude exists, which is to advocate as aggressively and passionately for the client. Mr. Schwartz has represented clients at all ends of the spectrum including some of the largest companies in America to some of the least fortunate in our society on criminal matters. Every client gets the energy and attention needed to achieve positive results. It is this training as a trial attorney, trying dozens of felony cases and handling thousands, that makes him extremely effective in navigating the political process for his clients.
Senior Analyst– Consumer Products, Bloomberg Intelligence
Kenneth Shea is a senior analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, Bloomberg’s proprietary industry and company research platform that also provides analytical insight, data and commentary on government policy, credit and other perspectives, available only on the Bloomberg Professional Service. Mr. Shea oversees consumer products research content and related value-added data displays covering the broad packaged food, beverages, tobacco and cannabis products industries.
Mr. Shea offers more than 20 years of related consumer products investment research experience across both equity and fixed income security analysis. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Mr. Shea was a managing director of Standard & Poor’s Corporate Ratings, where he produced credit research on public and private consumer products companies. Before that, Mr. Shea held a number of prominent positions, including S&P global equity research director, chairman of the S&P Investment Policy Committee, and member of the S&P Index Committee. He began his career at S&P in 1986 as an equity analyst, covering the global food, beverages and tobacco industries.
Mr. Shea earned his bachelor’s of science degree from The University of Maryland, and his master’s degree in business with a specialization in finance from Rutgers University. Mr. Shea is a member of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York, and has been a frequent contributor to the prominent television and print media for his insight on the consumer products sector and related topics.
Jim Solyst is the Vice President of Federal Government Affairs with Swedish Match North America. He has held senior positions in Washington DC based companies and associations, including the National Governors’ Association, American Chemistry Council, and the consulting firm ENVIRON International Corporation. During his over 30 years in Washington he has worked closely with federal agencies, including EPA, FDA and OMB. He has also worked with international organizations, including the UN, WHO and OECD.
Mr. Solyst is a member of the Food Drug Law Institute (FDLI) Tobacco Committee as well as the American Chemical Society Committee on Environmental Improvement. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Chemical Sciences Roundtable and served on the NAS Committee on Promoting Safe and Secure Chemical Management in Developing Countries. He also serves as an External Affiliate to the Johns Hopkins Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute.
Mr. Solyst has written several articles and given numerous presentations on a range of regulatory science and public policy issues.
Andrae Spencer is the President and General Manager of Global Laboratory Services, Inc. located in Wilson, NC. He is responsible for overall operations and directs a team of professionals that provide testing and R&D services to the tobacco industry.
He has over 30 years of laboratory experience. Prior to working at Global Laboratory Services, he was President of the Tobacco Industry Testing Laboratory. His career in the industry started with the American Tobacco Company as a R&D Chemist. Andrae holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry, a BS degree in chemistry, and a MBA.
Scientific professional with 23+ years experience in the tobacco industry. Leads cross-functional teams and has successfully implemented creative and cost effective strategies that ensure product integrity while balancing laboratory policies and procedures that foster a safe working environment. Recognized as a leader with a unique ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously while ensuring best practices and safety measures are executed in 24 different laboratories to team of 17 scientific professionals.
Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research
Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Mr. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He does over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and other nationally syndicated radio shows, as well as top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Dallas, plus regional broadcasts.
Director, Center for Tobacco Products
Mitch Zeller, J.D., became director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products in March 2013. The mission of CTP --established by enactment of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act -- is “to make tobacco-related death and disease part of America’s past, not America’s future, and, by doing so, ensure a healthier life for every American family.”
Zeller, a graduate of Dartmouth College and the American University Washington College of Law, has been working on FDA issues for more than 30 years. He began his career as a public interest attorney in 1982 at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In 1988, Zeller left CSPI to become counsel to the Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Government Operations Committee where he conducted oversight of enforcement of federal health and safety laws.
In 1993 Zeller joined the staff of then-FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, M.D. What began as a two-week assignment by Kessler to examine the practices of the tobacco industry led to his serving as associate commissioner and director of FDA’s first Office of Tobacco Programs. Instrumental in crafting’s the agency’s 1996 tobacco regulations, Zeller also represented FDA before Congress, federal and state agencies. Zeller also served as an official U.S. delegate to the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
In 2000, Zeller became executive vice president of the American Legacy Foundation. His responsibilities there included marketing, communications, strategic partnerships, and, in 2002, creating the foundation's first Office of Policy and Government Relations. That year, Zeller joined Pinney Associates where, as senior vice president, he provided strategic planning and communications advice. He left Pinney Associates in 2013 to begin his second stint at FDA.