Sesame Workshop Tuesday named chief operating officer Steven Youngwood as its next CEO, effective Jan. 1. Current chief executive Jeff Dunn will take on the new position of Executive Chairman, Sesame Workshop.
The nonprofit educational and media organization that produces Sesame Street and other shows said the move was as part of leadership transition that also included naming Sherrie Westin President of Sesame Workshop. She is currently President of Sesame’s Social Impact & Philanthropy Division.
Dunn has served as CEO since 2014. He’ll advise Youngwood, Westin and the Board of Trustees during a six-month transition and retire from Sesame Workshop at the end of its current fiscal year on June 30.
“Jeff has been an extraordinary CEO and an incredible leader at a critical moment for Sesame Workshop and the world,” said Jane Hartley, Chairman of the Board. “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.”
“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,” she added.
Youngwood, along with his COO role, is also president of Sesame Workshop’s Media & Education Division. Since 2015, he has led a dramatic 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, including Sesame Street, Esme & Roy, Elmo’s Not Too Late Show, Helpsters, Ghostwriter, Mecha Builders, documentaries, and family town hall specials.
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, as head of Sesame’s Social Impact & Philanthropy operation, for the past six years, has delivered over $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.
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.