Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


Muppets Around the World

Muppets Around the World

More From Joan

In this video

Tagged as

Cooney shares her surprise when different countries wanted part in Sesame Street since she saw it as the "quintessential American television show."

Joan's Biography

Childhood Ambition:A nun, a mother, or an opera singer

First Paying Job:A clerk typist in the State Department

The Best Medicine:"I would rather laugh than do anything in the world... So I watch Jon Stewart every night to get some laughs."

All-Time favorite Sesame Street Segment:Herry & John John Count 20

A founder of the Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney knew that educational television was her calling the moment she walked into Channel 13. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Cooney moved out east after college working as a publicist for the likes of RCA, NBC, and CBS's United States Steel Hour. It was at CBS when a colleague told her about educational television and her new career took off.
At a dinner party with Lloyd Morrisset, an executive at Carnegie Corporation, a conversation on whether children could learn from watching television spurned into a study on the topic funded by Carnegie Corporation and conducted by Cooney. The final report suggested a show like Sesame Street. With $8 million in funding, the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) was founded to produce the show. The first episode of Sesame Street premiered on PBS on November 10, 1969 to critical acclaim and high ratings, and after four decades remains a beloved children's television show.
Cooney was the first female non-performer to be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame, was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, was awarded an Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2007, the Sesame Workshop founded The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, named in her honor.

Related Videos

Claudia Chan
Claudia Chan
Entrepreneur & Journalist

Claudia Chan is the founder of, a for-purpose media brand that brings women’s empowering stories to one place. was launched in March 2012, 12 ...

Byllye Avery
Byllye Avery
Women's Health Advocate

For more than 30 years, Byllye Avery has been a health care activist dedicated to bettering the welfare of low-income African American women through self-help groups and advocacy n...

Shelly Lazarus
Shelly Lazarus
CEO, Ogilvy & Mather

In her 40-plus years at Ogilvy & Mather, Shelly Lazarus went from frequently being the only woman in the room, to being the woman running the show at the global advertising gia...

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes
Chairman, CEO & Founder, Theranos

Elizabeth Holmes is regarded as one of the most influential and successful health technology entrepreneurs. Holmes was born in Washington D.C., although her family relocated to...