Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center

Sesame Workshop

POSITION Executive Director

Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center

(a nonprofit, wholly owned subsidiary of Sesame Workshop)





New York City


The Executive Director will report to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s Board of Trustees, which includes the two co-founders of Sesame Workshop, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, Sesame Workshop’s Chief Executive, Jeff Dunn, and Steve Youngwood, President of Media & Education and Chief Operating Officer of Sesame Workshop.

On a day-to-day basis, the Executive Director will report to Sesame Workshop’s Chief Operating Officer.

Additionally, the Executive Director will be a member of Sesame Workshop’s CEO’s senior management team responsible for the oversight of the entirety of Sesame Workshop.





Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center (the Center) provides thought leadership and field-building in the realms of research, practice, and policy to improve the education, health, and social well-being of children around the world. The Center focuses on understanding technology and media as it relates to education and development for children, ages 2 to 8, with a particular focus on those who come from underserved and underrepresented populations.

Specifically, the Center aims to understand the future of learning through a four-pronged approach that includes: (1) research, (2) assemblies/convenings, (3) public engagement and policy, and (4) training/field building. It undertakes research, partnerships, and supports fellows to understand how to positively leverage new and rapidly changing technology and media. The Center is then a catalyst and convener for companies, investors, universities and academic institutions, non-profits, and government to learn about the impact and opportunity of new technology and media, share knowledge, and eventually innovate products, programs, and policies based on the Center’s research and findings.

The Center is a 501(c)(3) organization with a historical budget of about $2.2 million with a goal of significant expansion, an operating reserve of $23 million, and a staff based in New York City and the Bay Area. It is a subsidiary of Sesame Workshop with its own Board of Directors. With this Executive Director role, the Center is poised to reenergize its brand, operating model, reach and impact, as it capitalizes on its relationship to Sesame Workshop.



The new Executive Director will be an entrepreneurial leader who will serve as the Center’s head strategist, champion, fundraiser, and manager. Partnering closely with Sesame Workshop and the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director is charged with honing the Center’s mission and direction, developing the strategic and organizational plan, recruiting a high-performing team, mobilizing new funds, driving research, partnerships, and policy, elevating the external profile of the Center, and ultimately building and scaling the Center into a leading and highly influential voice in the education arena.

This is a unique opportunity to meaningfully participate in Sesame Workshop, grow the Center, and ensure the Center’s thought leadership and instigation around technology, media, and education to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.



Specifically, the Executive Director will serve as the key:


  • Provide a strategic vision for building and scaling the Center that hones its mission, direction, and connection to Sesame Workshop.
  • Develop and implement a strategy for leveraging research to extend the Center’s impact and influence through communication, press, convenings, and events.
  • Engage the Board of Trustees and partner with the Board and Sesame Workshop leadership to determine the right structure, governance, and size for the Board.
  • Guide the research agenda and focus to align with the new strategic goals.


  • Serve as a dynamic thought leader, public face, and ambassador for the Center to the press, public, and partners.
  • Develop and execute a partnership strategy to extend the Center’s reach in research, knowledge sharing, and innovation.
  • Instigate, convene, and advocate with relevant stakeholders including driving policy and influencing new products, programs, and services in the marketplace.


  • Oversee all financial development and serve as the Center’s lead fundraiser with an investor mindset, who grows and diversifies current support.
  • Understand the landscape of giving in order to cultivate relationships with potential new funders, including institutional and individual funders.


  • Determine the optimal organizational model for the Center and build a high-performing team.
  • Build and leverage relationships and resources within Sesame Workshop, staff, and the Board while developing and driving forward the Center’s new strategy and goals.
  • Oversee the fellows program to promote field building and talent in these fields as well as foster an overall culture of passion for the mission, program excellence, teamwork, and a shared purpose.



The Center seeks a dynamic, strategic, and driven leader with vision and the ability to work with multiple stakeholders to drive the vision. The successful candidate will understand how to reenergize and scale an organization, build successful partnerships, fundraise with institutions and individuals and create and lead an awareness strategy. He/she must be passionate about education and the value of research to positively impact children’s learning behaviors, activities, and outcomes.


Key Experiences and Attributes Include:

  • An energetic leader with a minimum of 10 years of senior leadership experience, including demonstrated experience managing and growing an organization or initiative in the non-profit or for-profit sectors;
  • A strategic thinker, able to create a vision, develop a plan,  marshal resources, and execute on objectives utilizing a proactive and entrepreneurial mindset;
  • Understanding of fundraising and current marketing/PR strategies and tactics; enthusiasm for cultivating and soliciting donors or investors;
  • Ability to build a Board and connect, influence, and inspire a wide variety of stakeholders and funders as well as the general public;
  • Results-oriented with an appreciation for academic and public policy debate;
  • Presence, poise, and passion to serve in the role of thought leader and ambassador;
  • Comfort leading through ambiguity,  bold in making connections and building relationships, and a tenacious hard worker;
  • Prior experience working in education as well as a familiarity with technology, media, research and research approaches; and
  • Deep passion for education and educational equity required.


EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree in education, public policy, public or business administration, technology, or related areas preferred.


COMPENSATION: Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience.


The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages candidates of all backgrounds to apply for this position.


Please email cover letter and resume or nominations in confidence to: