Tobacco-Free Kids Announces Matthew… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Tobacco-Free Kids Announces Matthew Myers Is Stepping Down as President, Yolonda Richardson Appointed as New President

May 15, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced today that Matthew L. Myers is stepping down as the organization’s president after more than 23 years in the position and Yolonda C. Richardson, currently the organization’s Executive Vice President for Global Programs, has been appointed by the Board of Directors as the new president and CEO.

The leadership transition will occur on July 1, and Myers will serve as a strategic advisor to Richardson. Richardson will also serve as president of the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Photos of Myers and Richardson are available on our website.

“I want to thank Matt for the extraordinary leadership he has provided to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and throughout his long career fighting the tobacco industry,” said Bill Novelli, Chair of Tobacco-Free Kids’ Board of Directors and President of the organization from 1996 to 1999. “Matt and his team at Tobacco-Free Kids have contributed enormously to driving down smoking rates to record lows among both youth and adults in the U.S. and to reversing the tide of the global tobacco epidemic. He has played a central role in one of the greatest public health achievements of our time.”

“Yolonda Richardson is exceptionally experienced and qualified to lead the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids into the future,” Novelli said. “Yolonda has led our global programs since 2009 and has overseen efforts in more than 60 countries to enact tobacco control policies that protect children, improve health and save lives. Yolonda has also shaped and spearheaded the work of our Global Health Advocacy Incubator, which applies our high-impact advocacy expertise to address other urgent public health challenges across the globe. Yolonda is deeply committed to improving health and advancing health equity for all.”

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and I am incredibly proud of what our team and our many partners have accomplished,” Myers said. “Through smart, tenacious advocacy and a commitment to health and social justice, we have helped bring about transformative change in the U.S. and around the world. No one is more qualified than Yolonda Richardson to take this organization to new heights and achieve even greater progress in saving lives not only from tobacco, but also from other critical public health issues.”

“I am deeply honored to be named President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and to continue the work started by Matt Myers and Bill Novelli 27 years ago. There is much to do, but there is also immense opportunity to make large-scale impact,” Richardson said.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids was created in 1996 with primary funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In the U.S., Tobacco-Free Kids has helped to reduce smoking rates by 90% among youth and over half among adults since 1996, with smoking rates among high school students dropping from over 36% to under 4%. Globally, as a partner since 2006 in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use and with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its work in Africa, Tobacco-Free Kids has helped pass laws that are projected to save over 35 million lives. And the Global Health Advocacy Incubator has helped civil society organizations achieve more than 80 health policy victories covering more than three billion people in 23 countries.

About Matthew L. Myers

Matthew L. Myers (view bio) helped to found the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in 1996 and has served as its president since January 1, 2000. During a career in tobacco control that has spanned more than 40 years, Myers has participated in virtually every major tobacco-related policy initiative in the United States. During his tenure at Tobacco-Free Kids, Myers and his team led the push for the 2009 federal law giving the FDA long-sought authority over tobacco products, helped enact the largest federal cigarette tax increase in U.S. history, supported state lawsuits that led to the massive 1998 tobacco settlement, and participated in the federal government’s lawsuit that resulted in a landmark racketeering verdict against the major cigarette manufacturers. At the state and local levels, Tobacco-Free Kids has successfully advocated for hundreds of laws to raise tobacco taxes, make workplaces and public places smoke-free, fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs, raise the tobacco sale age to 21, and prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Internationally, Myers and Tobacco-Free Kids participated in the development of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first global public health treaty, and the organization works in low- and middle-income countries across the globe to support implementation of the proven policies called for by the treaty. In 2014, Tobacco-Free Kids established the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), which builds on the successes and lessons learned in the fight against tobacco to tackle other critical public health challenges around the globe.

About Yolonda C. Richardson

Yolonda C. Richardson (view bio) has served since 2009 as the Executive Vice President for Global Programs at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and its Global Health Advocacy Incubator. Working in over 60 countries, she has led efforts to support civil society organizations and governments in developing and implementing effective tobacco control policies that are consistent with international best practices.

A recognized expert on gender and international development, global health, philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, Richardson has decades of advocacy experience. Her background includes leadership roles at the Centre for Development and Population Activities, the African Development Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as well as serving as the President and Founder of Richardson Consulting, a managing consulting firm that specialized in providing senior level strategic support and expertise to nonprofit organizations, foundations, corporate philanthropies, and global development agencies.

Richardson holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Columbia University and a Juris Doctorate from Yale University School of Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dillard University in New Orleans.

About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. Through strategic communications and policy advocacy campaigns, Tobacco-Free Kids works to change public attitudes about tobacco and promote evidence-based policies that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives. Our Global Health Advocacy Incubator builds on the successes and lessons learned in the fight against tobacco to support civil society organizations working to tackle other critical public health challenges across the globe.