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Juul Hires First Black Director, Names CEO Crosthwaite Chairman

Juul Labs Inc. has tapped Teresa Sebastian, an executive with financial and compliance expertise, to join its board as the company seeks to reset its business and diversify its ranks.

Sebastian is chief executive officer of The Dominion Asset Group, an early-stage investment group focused on revitalizing urban areas. She will serve as an independent director and head up the closely held e-cigarette giant’s audit committee, Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said Tuesday in an email to employees reviewed by Bloomberg News.

Sebastian is the first Black member of the company’s eight-person board. Juul added former Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose as an independent director in May, making her its first female board member.

Crosthwaite also said he will become chairman at the board’s request, succeeding co-founder Adam Bowen, who will head up the product committee. Bowen became the company’s first chairman when Crosthwaite joined the company last fall.

The changes come at a pivotal moment for the nation and the company, with corporations under pressure to promote diverse voices and Juul trying to shore up its finances and win regulators’ permission to keep selling its e-cigarettes in the U.S. Applications with the Food and Drug Administration are due Sept. 9.

“We are all aware that our company is entering a critical period,” Crosthwaite said. “With the support and oversight of our increasingly robust board, we will deliver our first PMTA submissions to the FDA, while continuing the work of combating underage vaping and transitioning adult smokers all around the world from combustible cigarettes.”

The once-highflying Juul has seen its fortunes change over the past year. Sales have declined, with some consumers ditching e-cigarettes and others switching to brands that offer the sweet flavors Juul no longer sells.

Crosthwaite said in the email that Sebastian will help Juul ensure it has financial discipline. She serves on two other boards and teaches courses on corporate compliance, legal risk management and accounting at the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University.

Crosthwaite said Juul will continue to seek directors with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The company is searching for a lead independent director.

Angelica LaVito/Bloomberg