Clifford B. Fleet, President & Chief Executive Officer


Mr. Fleet was appointed as our President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board of Directors in August 2019.  From 2013 to 2017, Mr. Fleet served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Philip Morris USA (PM USA), an Altria Group, Inc. subsidiary.  Prior to that time, Mr. Fleet held a variety of management and leadership positions across the Altria family of companies including Vice President and General Manager of Marlboro®, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Vice President of Investor Relations and other management and leadership positions in Market Research, Sales, and Operations.  A native of Virginia, Mr. Fleet earned four academic degrees from the College of William & Mary, including a BA, MA, JD and MBA.

Michael Zercher, Chief Operating Officer


Mr. Zercher was appointed Chief Operating Officer in June 2019.  From 2016 to 2019, Mr. Zercher served as the Company’s Vice President of Business Development.  Prior to joining 22nd Century, Mr. Zercher headed Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company’s international business operations based in Zurich, Switzerland where he built a thriving international business with significant sales in twelve countries. Mr. Zercher has more than twenty years of experience in the tobacco industry in marketing, sales, operations and business development in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Juan Sanchez Tamburrino, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development

Dr. Tamburrino was appointed Vice President of Research and Development in December 2017. Following six years of post-doctoral research at the Rockefeller University in New York, Dr. Tamburrino served as an Associate Professor at Universidad Tarapacá in Chile before becoming the Research Manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred International (now known as DuPont Pioneer). In 2009, Dr. Tamburrino was appointed the head of the Plant Biotechnology Division of British American Tobacco in Cambridge, England where he was responsible for biotechnology strategy related to tobacco leaf. Dr. Tamburrino holds Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and genetics from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University, a partnership program with the Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Institute and is a Master of Business Administration candidate at the University of Bradford in Bradford, U.K.

Paul Rushton, Ph.D., Vice President of Plant Biotechnology

Dr. Rushton was appointed our Vice President of Plant Biotechnology in October 2015. Dr. Rushton served as an Associate Professor at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Dallas from 2013 to 2015, and at South Dakota State University, Department of Biology and Microbiology from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that time, he served as a Research Assistant Professor and Research Associate at the University of Virginia, Department of Biology where he worked alongside Dr. Michael Timko – a pioneer in the field of altering nicotine levels in tobacco and developer of some of 22nd Century’s altered-nicotine tobacco technology. Dr. Rushton was a Postdoctoral Fellow for a decade at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding, Cologne, Germany. Dr. Rushton holds a Master of Arts degree in Biochemistry from The University of Cambridge, UK and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Manchester University, UK.

John T. Brodfuehrer, Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Brodfuehrer was appointed our Chief Financial Officer in March 2013. Through December 2012, Mr. Brodfuehrer served as the Chief Financial Officer of Latina Boulevard Foods, LLC, or LBF, an entity formed as the result of a merger of two long-time Western New York wholesale food distributors. Prior to his employment with LBF, Mr. Brodfuehrer was Vice-President of Retail Accounting for United Refining Company, or URC. Prior to his time at URC, Mr. Brodfuehrer served in multiple roles over a twenty-four year span with NOCO Energy Corp, a diversified distributor of energy products and related services. Mr. Brodfuehrer served as NOCO’s Chief Financial Officer, Vice-President and as a member of the Board of Directors from 2000 to 2009. Mr. Brodfuehrer earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, summa cum laude, from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1979 and became a New York State Certified Public Accountant in 1981.

Thomas L. James, Esq., Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary

Mr. James was appointed as our Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary in May 2014. From February 2001 to May 2014, Mr. James was a Partner and later Of Counsel in the law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP, the external legal counsel of our company, during which time Mr. James served as the outside legal and business counsel for our company for more than a decade. Prior to that time, Mr. James was a Partner in the law firm of Freedman, Levy, Kroll & Simonds in Washington, D.C. Mr. James holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctor Degree from Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C.