Colonial Williamsburg appoints new CEO
Cliff Fleet is the former president and CEO of Philip Morris USA.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has appointed Cliff Fleet, the former head of Philip Morris USA, as the organization’s ninth president and CEO. Fleet will start his new role on Jan. 1.
Fleet, who served as president and CEO of the Henrico County-based cigarette manufacturer from 2013 to 2017, will succeed Mitchell Reiss, who led Colonial Williamsburg for five years before stepping down in October. Most recently, Fleet had worked since August as the president and CEO of New York-based 22nd Century Group Inc., a biotech firm working to reduce the levels of nicotine in tobacco plants and modify the level of cannabinoids in hemp/cannabis plants through genetic engineering and modern plant breeding.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation controls assets worth more than $1 billion, including the 18th-century Colonial America living history attraction as well as museums, lodging and other tourism draws, such as the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Golden Horseshoe Golf Club.
“I am honored to accept the position of president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I have long admired its leadership role in the Commonwealth and across America as it educates all of us on our nation’s founding principles,” Fleet said in a statement issued Friday. “Colonial Williamsburg’s future is bright, with compelling opportunities to pursue our core educational mission and expand our reach as we lead up to the nation’s 250th anniversary and the foundation’s centennial in 2026. We are uniquely positioned to shape the national dialogue in important ways that bring us together as a people by commemorating the important events related to our nation’s founding that occurred in Williamsburg. I look forward to working with Colonial Williamsburg’s talented staff and board, dedicated donors and others across the nation to share America’s enduring story.”
A William & Mary alum who holds a bachelor’s degree in history and religion and graduate degrees in history, business administration and law, Fleet is a business professor at William & Mary and has served as president of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation since 2014. He also is the vice chair for development strategy on the board of trustees of the William & Mary Foundation.
“Cliff brings a lifelong passion for Colonial Williamsburg’s mission and its importance to the national debate about America’s revolutionary principles. That, combined with his demonstrated leadership and business success, makes him uniquely qualified to build on Colonial Williamsburg’s reputation as a leading voice in the story of America’s beginning,” said Thurston R. Moore, chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Trustees.
William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe also praised the choice, saying, “Colonial Williamsburg will be in great hands with Cliff Fleet, whom we know well as an engaged alumnus with four degrees from William & Mary. I look forward to working closely with Cliff as his partner and neighbor in ways that benefit William & Mary, Colonial Williamsburg and our region.”