May 29, 2014

By Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop’s 12th Annual Gala Honoring Joan Ganz Cooney

Last night, Sesame Workshop honored Joan Ganz Cooney, co-creator of Sesame Street and co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), for her lifelong efforts to improve the lives of children around the world at its 12th annual benefit gala. Sesame Street’s Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Abby and Big Bird hosted the event at Cipriani 42nd Street which included special appearances by Diane Sawyer and Cheryl Henson, and video tributes from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama.  The evening concluded with a musical performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Michael Bublé, performing “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Young at Heart,” and the Sesame Street classic “Sing” with the Muppets.

We are honored to recognize Mrs. Cooney for her contribution as the co-creator of Sesame Street, the award-winning children’s educational TV show. With the belief that television could help children learn, Mrs. Cooney and her colleagues launched a program that revolutionized television, dramatically impacted pre-school education and changed millions of lives for the better. Four decades later, her legacy continues. Today, Sesame Workshop has become the single largest informal educator of young children around the world.  Using the power of media, Sesame Street engages children in 150 countries by teaching literacy and numeracy, as well as crucial lessons about health, emotional well-being and respect and understanding.

Mrs. Cooney began her career as a journalist in her hometown of Phoenix before moving to New York City to become a public affairs producer for WNDT (now WNET). While there, she led a study for the Carnegie Corporation titled, “The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education.” That groundbreaking research paved the way for the debut of Sesame Street in 1969.

Forty-five years later, Mrs. Cooney’s contribution to children’s education continues. She is currently Chair of the Executive Committee of Sesame Workshop’s Board of Trustees and in 2007, she established the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an innovative nonprofit research organization dedicated to advancing children’s literacy skills through digital media. In addition, the Public Preparatory Network recently announced that they are launching the Joan Ganz Cooney Early Learning Program, a tuition-free, all-day pre-K program for four-year olds in the South Bronx.

Joan has been the heart and soul of Sesame Workshop for the past 45 years. Thanks to her vision, Sesame Street has helped millions of children around the globe grow up smarter, stronger and kinder.

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