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Press Release

Truth Initiative announces new General Counsel

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Truth Initiative, America’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past, today announced the appointment of Robert Falk as General Counsel. Falk will succeed Ellen Vargyas, upon her retirement as General Counsel, effective November 6, reporting to Truth Initiative CEO and President Robin Koval.

Falk is an experienced health care attorney and has worked in federal and state legislative and regulatory advocacy, major corporate transactions and defending civil and criminal fraud cases. Prior to joining Truth Initiative, Falk served as the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, for eleven years. During his tenure, he supported the organization’s work on policy changes such as the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal and the passage of marriage equality and employment nondiscrimination legislation by state legislatures.

He also advised both the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on legal issues including election and campaign finance law, non-profit tax issues, real estate, human resource matters and intellectual property. Prior to joining HRC, Falk served as general counsel of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, a large HIV/AIDS social service agency, and as acting general counsel at D.C. General Hospital. He has 15 years of private practice experience in prominent national law firms where he concentrated on health care issues.

“Truth Initiative is honored to welcome Rob as our new General Counsel and Corporate Secretary,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative. “We admire his success in facing difficult adversaries, tackling tough issues and in achieving groundbreaking social change. His experience will enhance our organization as we work to achieve our mission.”

Falk is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School. He is a previous recipient of the HRC’s Ally of Justice award.

“I have two grandparents who passed away from smoking-related cancers, so tobacco use is an issue that is very close to my heart,” said Rob Falk, General Counsel for Truth Initiative. “I look forward to hitting the ground running and tackling the issue of tobacco through supporting the populations that are most at risk.”

This announcement follows the retirement of Ellen Vargyas who served as Truth Initiative’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for 16 years. Over the span of her career Vargyas’ expertise in the law and relentless dedication to the efforts of tobacco control have dramatically impacted the lives of millions of Americans. “Truth Initiative is indebted to Ellen for her talent, passion and tireless work fighting the tobacco epidemic and the practices of the tobacco industry.  Ellen’s work has been instrumental to Truth Initiative and the tobacco control community in our mission to achieve a culture where youth and young adults reject tobacco.” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative. “Throughout her career she has fought for those who are most in need and her legal expertise has assured our success well into the future.”

Prior to joining the Truth Initiative team, Vargyas served as legal counsel at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she directed the commission’s regulatory and policy work to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Age of Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vargyas also served as the senior counsel for Employment and Education at the National Women’s Law Center, where she handled precedent-setting title IX litigation.

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