Joan Ganz Cooney, originator of Sesame Street, was co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) and was President and CEO until 1990. She was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board until 2020, when she became an Lifetime Honorary Trustee. In 2007, she introduced the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at the Workshop, dedicated to advancing children’s learning in a digital age.
Sesame Street, the first program to integrate education and entertainment and feature a diverse cast, is the longest running children's show in US history. It has won a historic 200+ Emmy Awards, ten Grammy Awards, five Peabody Awards and, in 2019, was the first TV show named a Kennedy Center Honoree. Sesame Street has a presence in over 150 countries and is seen on HBO Max and on PBS, where it has aired daily across the US since 1969. Co-productions in local languages have been produced around the world. Sesame Workshop, among many honors, received the first Global Impact Clio Award and a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award and is known for powerful social impact work helping children around the world.
Mrs. Cooney has received many personal awards including a Daytime Emmy for Lifetime Achievement and the Founders Award from the International Council of NATAS. She was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She was married for many years to the late Peter G. Peterson, former US Secretary of Commerce.