Michael Preston Named New Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

March 19, 2019

(New York, NY – March 19, 2019) – The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop has announced that Michael Preston, Ph.D., has joined as Executive Director. Preston will lead the Center as it drives vital innovation into the next era of learning with media and technology. He replaces the Cooney Center’s founding Executive Director, Michael Levine, who now serves as Sesame Workshop’s Chief Knowledge Officer.

“Michael Preston brings a wealth of practical and academic experience to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center,” said Steve Youngwood, Sesame Workshop’s President of Media and Education and Chief Operating Officer. “We’re thrilled to have him at the helm as new technologies and media platforms become ubiquitous parts of kids’ lives.”

Preston has more than 20 years of experience leading innovation in educational technology at both local and national levels. His work has focused on using technology to improve teaching and learning, drive student agency and interest, and create models for systemic change in both K-12 and university contexts. Most recently, he co-founded CSforALL, the hub for the national Computer Science for All movement. CSforALL began as an initiative of CSNYC, where Preston launched a 10-year partnership with New York City to provide high-quality computer science to every student in the nation’s largest public school system. CSforALL now helps other cities and regions across the country replicate the progress made in New York.

Preston’s arrival comes as the Joan Ganz Cooney Center undergoes a period of strategic growth. Already recognized for its thought leadership and field-building in research, practice, and policy around children’s digital media, the Center aims to expand its scope to improve the education, health, and social well-being of children around the world.

“I’ve long been inspired by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s work to advance learning for kids, educators, and families of all backgrounds, and I’m thrilled to join the organization as it’s poised to grow in both impact and scale,” said Preston. “I look forward to helping the Center provide meaningful leadership at the intersection of the education and technology sectors to build better learning opportunities and outcomes for children everywhere.”

Prior to his work with CSNYC and CSforALL, Preston designed and led digital learning initiatives at the New York City Department of Education, including programs in middle and high school computer science, personalized learning, and digital literacy. At Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, he led software development projects and research studies on multimedia analysis tools. Preston has taught courses in psychology and research methods at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he earned a PhD in Cognitive Science in Education. He also holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University.


About the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop investigates the potential of digital media to help children learn and collaborates with educators, media producers, policymakers, and investors to put this research into action. An independent nonprofit organization, the Center addresses issues of digital equity and aims to strengthen connections between formal and informal learning environments. Learn more at joanganzcooneycenter.org.

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit sesameworkshop.org.

Press Contacts

Catherine Jhee, Joan Ganz Cooney Center
Brit Edwards, Sesame Workshop
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