In response to the planned retirement of current president and chief executive officer, Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop has announced its plans for a leadership transition to begin on Jan. 1, 2021.
Dunn will take on the new position of executive chairman of Sesame Workshop. The Board has further elected Steve Youngwood as the sixth chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop and ex officio member of the Board of Trustees. In addition, Sherrie Westin has been elected as president of Sesame Workshop.
Dunn, who has served as chief executive officer since 2014, will advise Youngwood, Westin and the Board of Trustees during a six-month transition. Dunn will retire from Sesame Workshop at the end of its current fiscal year, on June 30, 2021.
"Jeff has been an extraordinary CEO and an incredible leader at a critical moment for Sesame Workshop and the world," says Jane D. Hartley, chairman of the board, Sesame Workshop. "Under his watch, the organization has grown tremendously, expanding its reach and delivering on its mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder. I want to thank Jeff and my fellow board members for their guidance in this transition. We are so fortunate to have Steve Youngwood and Sherrie Westin as the perfect leaders to continue this important work. I am excited for the future and know Sesame is in good hands."
Under Dunn's leadership, Sesame Workshop has formed groundbreaking new partnerships which grew the Workshop's reach and revenues. Accolades under his watch include 38 Emmy awards, a George Foster Peabody Award for Institutional Excellence and a Kennedy Center Honors Award, considered the nation's highest artistic achievement, for “Sesame Street's” lifetime contributions to American culture.
Youngwood currently serves as Sesame Workshop's chief operating officer and president of its Media and Education Division. Since 2015, he has led an expansion of the Workshop's media business from being a single show producer to a broad-based production company. Through partnerships with PBS, HBO MAX, Apple, CNN, YouTube and others, the Workshop currently has its largest and most diverse portfolio of content in its 50-year history. Youngwood spearheaded the Workshop's expansion into schools with McGraw Hill and its digital learning efforts through the recently announced partnership with Homer. He has also led the growth of the Workshop's global footprint, themed entertainment experiences, brand partnerships and product licensing. His work has allowed the organization to continue delivering on its mission and keep its brand relevant in an increasingly fragmented media universe, as well as providing a strong financial foundation for Sesame's social impact work around the world.
Westin currently serves as the president of Sesame's Social Impact and Philanthropy Division. Over the past six years, she has delivered more than $300 million in grants and donations to serve the most vulnerable children around the world. She spearheaded a partnership with the IRC to launch the largest Early Childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response, leading the Workshop's efforts to win the MacArthur's 100&Change competition. In 2017, Westin launched “Sesame Street in Communities,” the Workshop's signature domestic initiative, designed to give children tools to overcome traumatic experiences. Westin also oversaw development of “See Amazing in All Children” and its creation of “Sesame Street's” first autistic Muppet, Julia, to help address the stigma of autism. Under Westin's leadership, Sesame Workshop is now recognized for its humanitarian work around the globe.
"Jeff Dunn has been an exceptional leader of Sesame Workshop, leading us through challenging times and leaving us stronger than we've ever been," says Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder and lifetime honorary trustee, Sesame Workshop. "I am confident that Steve and Sherrie are the right team to carry us into the future and continue to deliver on our mission."