Cigar Rights of America (CRA)’s Board of Directors have elected new leaders. Gary Pesh, owner of Old Virginia Tobacco Company, has been named Chairman of the Board; and Karen Smith, Vice President of Arturo Fuente, has been elected as President. Both succeed Robert G. Levin of Ashton who had served in both roles since 2014.

Smith has been tasked with leading the CRA organization and its staff while the CRA Board of Directors conducts a search this summer for a new Executive Director. The Executive Director’s spot has been vacant since Glynn Loope stepped down in November of 2020.

Levin is also stepping down from the CRA Board. In his place the Board has elected his son, Sathya Levin, Executive Vice President and COO of Ashton, to fill his seat. The Board also elected Cory Bappert of Oliva Cigar Company as Vice President and Drew Newman of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. as Secretary.

“I want to thank Rob for his dedication and extraordinary leadership over the past 7 years,” said Pesh. “With an increasing number of proposals to regulate and tax premium cigars, the need to fight for the right to enjoy a fine cigar is perhaps more important now than ever before.”

“It has been a privilege to represent premium cigar manufacturers, retailers, and consumers in Washington,” said Levin.  “It is now time for the next generation to continue this work, and I am very proud that my son Sathya is stepping up to join CRA’s Board.”

Smith is the Vice President of Arturo Fuente.  She will be leading the organization and its staff while CRA’s Board conducts a national search this summer for a new Executive Director.