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Sesame Workshop’s 12th Annual Benefit Gala Honored Joan Ganz Cooney, Co-Creator of Sesame Street and Co-Founder of Sesame Workshop

The Sesame Street Muppets™ Hosted the Special Evening That Included a Performance by Renowned Musical Artist Michael Bublé

(New York, May 29th, 2014) — Last night, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, 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.

2014 Gala Joan Ganz Cooney & Michael Buble - Clint Spalding

Mrs. Cooney was recognized 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, numeracy and crucial lessons about health, emotional well-being and respect and understanding.

“On the occasion of our 45th anniversary, we’re thrilled to be able to honor Joan Ganz Cooney,” said Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President, Sesame Workshop. “Joan has been the heart and soul of Sesame Workshop for the past 45 years and thanks to her vision, Sesame Street has helped millions of children around the globe grow up smarter, stronger and kinder.”

Mrs. Cooney began her career as a journalist in her hometown of Phoenix, AZ, 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.

“I am thrilled and humbled by this remarkable celebration. Sesame Street was always a team effort and I’d like to recognize my co-founder Lloyd Morrisett and a few special individuals who without their vision and expertise, Sesame Street wouldn’t be what it is today – so thank you Jim Henson, Jon Stone, Joe Raposo and Gerry Lesser,” added Joan Ganz Cooney.  “I feel so fortunate to have been a part of something that has touched the lives of so many children throughout the world.  My heartfelt thanks to all of the incredible people I’ve been so fortunate to work with along the way, and to all of those who continue to carry the mission forward today. A legacy feels like something that is over, and thanks to all of you, this just keeps going.”

In Mrs. Cooney’s honor, it was announced at the benefit that Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ford Foundation will be funding the first Joan Ganz Cooney Prize that will support the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s Fellows Program. The $200,000 Prize will support the program over the next two years.

The evening concluded with a performance by Michael Bublé, the Grammy and Juno award-winning musician. Buble performed “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Young at Heart,” and the Sesame Street classic “Sing” with the Muppets.

Last night’s gala raised more than $3 million which will help fund Sesame Workshop’s mission-driven educational projects for children around the world.  Sesame Workshop’s efforts are also supported in part from the sales of Sesame Street products, government grants, corporate sponsorships, and philanthropic funding, as well as proceeds from Sesame Workshop’s 12th annual benefit dinner.

Past honorees include President Bill Clinton; Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; First Lady Laura Bush; former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan; Susie Buffett, and The Sherwood Foundation.

A special thank you to Peter G. Peterson and Sesame Workshop’s partners Hasbro, Qualcomm, Toys R Us, Ogden Cap Properties, LLC, and American Greetings for making the evening possible, and to Cipriani 42nd Street, Star Group Productions, Preston Bailey Entertainment and Set Design and The Jim Henson Company for all their help.


Visit Sesame Street at:
The Sesame Street YouTube Channel
Sesame Street on FaceBook
Sesame Street on Twitter

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at



Alicia Durand
Sesame Workshop

Philip Crimaldi
DKC for Sesame Workshop


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