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July 05, 2012

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A Tour of Sesame Workshop’s Wall Art

By Graydon Gordian


In April we featured the work of Associate Design Director Louis Henry Mitchell, who created the wonderful chalk murals on the 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s office. Many of our readers really enjoyed the post, so we wanted to show you the rest of the chalk art that can be found around the office.

The fun and imaginative wall art was created by our Creative Services team:

  • Graphic Designer Molly Hein (Bert and Ernie in the Subway, Ernie bowling, Gluten Free),
  • Associate Art Director Evan Cheng (Bert and Ernie in the Subway, Ernie Bowling, Gluten Free, Grover Michael Jackson)
  • Senior Design Director Vanessa Germosen (Bert and Ernie in the Subway)
  • Creative Director Kip Rathke (Super Grover)
  • Creative Director Janis Beauchamp (Elmo Peaking in)
  • Vice President Creative Director Theresa Fitzgerald (Super Grover)
  • Louis Henry Mitchell (Full Cast Welcome Sign, Elmo/Big Bird/Cookie Monster Welcome Sign, Herry)

Each of the artists brings his or her own style and technique to the portrayal of Sesame Street’s iconic MuppetsTM. The entire Sesame Workshop team loves the chalk drawings so much that we decided it was about time we shared them with everyone.

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Jordanian Sesame Street Launches New Website for Parents and Children

By Graydon Gordian


Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is committed to making an impact on the health, wellbeing and education of children across the globe. While we may be best known for our groundbreaking television programs, we’re committed to using a variety of media to educate and entertain children. That’s why Hikayat SimSim, the Jordanian version of Sesame Street, recently launched HikayatSimSim.com, a new online resource with activities and guides for parents, teachers and children.

The site, which launched on May 30, is targeted at the parents and teachers of children ages 4-8, as well as the children themselves. The site includes games that help teach concepts that are critical for school readiness, “tips” and parental guides for caregivers, and introductions to Tonton, Juljul and Elmo, the furry friends children see when they watch Hikayat SimSim. Over time additional games, videos and stories will be added to the site as well.

Since 2003, when Hikayat SimSim first aired, Sesame Workshop has been helping the children of Jordan acquire the educational foundation necessary to achieve their full potential. As an organization we have a firm belief that educational messages are better retained if experienced on multiple platforms. That is why we are so excited to add an online component to our educational efforts in Jordan.

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June 27, 2012

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‘A Woman in the Boardroom’: A 1978 Interview with Joan Ganz Cooney

By Joan Ganz Cooney



Ed. Note: This interview with Sesame Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney originally appeared in the 1978 January-February edition of the Harvard Business Review. It has been re-published with the permission of the Harvard Business Review and edited for length. Special thanks goes to Ms. Cooney for taking the time to reflect upon her interview and write an updated introduction, which you can find below.

I find it hard to believe, upon re-reading this interview from Harvard Business Review, that it was published only 34 years ago… As the kids would say, “It’s so last century!” I was among the first women to be asked to join a Fortune 300 corporate board. Today, it is not unusual for major corporations to have two or three women as board members. I was embarrassed to read how afraid I was to offend the sensibilities of the businessmen of that era. I’m happy to say that today men and women interact as equals; Women CEO’s, while still rare in the Fortune 500, exist in much greater numbers than they did in the 70′s and women are almost always in high executive positions. Xerox’s two most recent CEO’s have been women; the current one is African American. So yes, things have changed for the better. We still have a long way to go but there is no question that astonishing progress has been made by women in business.

Harvard Business Review: We’d like to look at several conventional views concerning the question of women at top management and board levels.  The first concerns qualifications. Many people believe that women can’t make the same tough decisions that men can, that they aren’t qualified in the same way that men are. What is your response to that view?

Cooney: Well, I don’t think there’s anything to it in one way, but in other ways there’s a great deal to it. Little girls and young women are trained on both conscious and unconscious bases, by the family and by society, to “get along”—to be diligent and dutiful, to take instructions from older people, first from their parents and then from men. Some men are comfortable in that role, merely following instructions, but virtually all women are comfortable in it.

To make decisions women have to debrief themselves, which causes an enormous amount of anxiety and stress, to understand that they can take action—can, for instance, perform the necessary surgery if it must be performed. Such surgery includes eliminating a department, eliminating, here at Children’s Television Workshop, a show, eliminating personnel; sometimes for budgetary reasons, sometimes for competency reasons.

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Sesame’s VP of Outreach Receives Outstanding Civilian Service Award

By Graydon Gordian



Lynn Chwatsky (right) stands next to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno during the ceremony.

As an entire organization, Sesame Workshop is dedicated to improving the lives of servicemen and women and their families, but a few people at Sesame deserve special recognition for the work they do on behalf of military families. Lynn Chwatsky, Vice President of Outreach Initiatives and Partners for Sesame Workshop, is one of those people. That’s why we’re proud to announce that last week Lynn was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, an award given to civilians who make a “substantial contribution” to the military.

General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, presented the award to Lynn and an esteemed group of fellow recipients: New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, NBA referee Bob Delaney, and Linda Patterson, President and Founder of America Supporting Americans.

“I’m humbled,” Lynn said. “Every second of everyday our servicemen and women serve our country with dignity, honor and respect. For them to thank me – I was honored. It was very special. It was one of the top few days of my life.”

To learn more about the ways Lynn and the rest of the Sesame Workshop team support military families, click here.

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Sesame’s Annual Gala Celebrates Workshop’s Global Impact

By Graydon Gordian


Last night Sesame Workshop held its 10th annual benefit gala. At the gala, which was hosted by Elmo and The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart, President Bill Clinton and UnitedHealthcare were honored for the work they do on behalf of children’s health and education across the globe. The above video, an extended look at the history and global mission of Sesame Workshop, was featured, as were performances by the Sesame Street Muppets™ of  ”We Are the World” and the Sesame Street classic “sing.”

To learn more about the global mission of Sesame Workshop, click here.

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May 23, 2012

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Sesame’s Newest Outreach Initiative: Helping Children Build Resilience

By Graydon Gordian


Helping children persevere through changes and transitions is a critical part of Sesame Street’s mission. That’s why Sesame Workshop, the educational non-profit behind the iconic children’s show, is proud to announce Little Children, Big Challenges, a new outreach initiative dedicated to building skills for resilience in children ages 2–5 to help them persevere through day-to-day as well as more difficult challenges.

Learning from mistakes; making new friends; resolving conflicts: these are the kinds of early childhood struggles with which Little Children, Big Challenges will help young kids cope. The initiative will help children from every background, including those of military and veteran families, remain resilient while working through these and other challenges.

The bilingual (English/Spanish) initiative will feature online, interactive resources for parents and children, as well as the “What We Are” anthem, which you can watch above. The anthem will be performed live by the Quantico Marine Corps band, Sesame Street’s Gordon, Elmo and Rosita, and Matt Rogers, the host of Lifetime’s Coming Home, at a special event aboard the Intrepid this Saturday, May 26.

Major support for Little Children Big Challenges is provided by BAE Systems, Inc. Generous support is provided by The Prudential Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the USO, and Military Child Education Coalition.

To learn more about how Sesame Workshop is helping children build resilience, visit Sesame Street’s military families website or the Little Children, Big Challenges page at SesameStreet.org, which will launch Friday.

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A Message from Elmo and the Girls Prep Bronx’s ‘Joan Ganz Cooney’ Class

By Graydon Gordian


Over 40 years after she co-founded Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney remains as dedicated to educating children in underserved communities as ever. That’s why Girls Prep Bronx Elementary School, which names each class after a successful woman its students should emulate, named its kindergarten class after Mrs. Cooney.

The students are so appreciative of Mrs. Cooney’s support that they asked Elmo to stop by the school, located in the South Bronx, so they could record a special message thanking her.

Joan Ganz Cooney became the kindergarten class’ “namesake” in 2009. Many of the students at Girls Prep come from poor backgrounds. 100 percent of the students are African-American, Latina or of multi-racial decent. Children in communities like the South Bronx are the kind of students Mrs. Cooney was hoping to reach when Sesame Street first aired in 1969. And although they move onto the class of a different inspiring woman after they graduate kindergarten, the foundations for a lifetime of education are established while the girls are in the “JGC” class, as it is known. Every girl in the JGC class has signed the Commitment to College Completion and has a college savings account established by the school.

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Sesame Workshop Launches New Sesame Street China Website

By Graydon Gordian


Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is committed to the future of children’s educational media in China. That’s why last week we launched the Sesame Street China website, a new online resource with activities and videos for children and tips for Chinese parents.

The site is made up of three sections, titled “The Show,” “Grown-ups,” and “Meet Sesame Street.” The first includes segments from Sesame Street’s Big Bird Looks at the World, the Chinese version of Sesame Street, created in partnership with Shanghai Media Group’s Toonmax. “Grown-ups” has professional parenting tips to help Chinese families with their children’s mental, physical and emotional development. And “Meet Sesame Street” has information about Sesame Workshop’s research model, our historical international educational efforts both inside and outside China and the Workshops’ key partners. The website is also highly interconnected with Weibo and Kaixin, two extremely popular Chinese social media networks.

Sesame Workshop first began helping Chinese children fulfill their full potential in 1983 when we collaborated with CCTV to create Big Bird in China. With the launch of the Sesame Street China website, we’re proud to continue that tradition.

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May 09, 2012

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Mandela Family, Mayor Bloomberg and Sesame Street Support Road Safety

By Graydon Gordian


The Mandela family, Mayor Bloomberg and Grover at an event for the Zenani Campaign on May 2.

“Every year almost 1.3 million people are killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads – and many of those victims are children. That is simply unacceptable.”

Those words, spoken by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, are taken very seriously here at Sesame Workshop.  Continuing its support of the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street is working with partners from around the world to help raise awareness and promote safe road practices.  Most recently, we teamed up with Mayor Bloomberg and the family of former South African President Nelson Mandela to help support the Zenani Campaign, aimed at increasing road protection for children, especially those in developing countries.

According to some estimates by 2015 road crashes will be the number one killer of children in Africa, surpassing both Malaria and AIDS. Nelson Mandela himself has already lost a young family member to a traffic accident: Zenani Mandela, for whom the campaign is named.

Promoting the health and wellbeing of children the world over is at the core of Sesame Workshop’s mission. That’s why Sesame Street’s Road Safety Ambassador Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street family are happy to lend their support to the road safety education and outreach initiatives being pioneered by the Mandela family and the United Nations.

To learn more about the work we do to encourage road safety, click here.

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The Book on Books: the History of Sesame Street and Random House

By Graydon Gordian


Sesame Workshop Co-Founder Joan Ganz Cooney signs a contract with Random House in 1984.

In January 1970, less than two months after Sesame Street first aired, Joan Ganz Cooney, the co-founder of Sesame Workshop, received a letter.

“Our editorial staff in particular and many other of our associates have been watching the outstanding progress of your Sesame Street show with real respect and admiration,” read its opening line.

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