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.


"There's Educational Television?"

"There's Educational Television?"

More From Joan

In this video

Tagged as

Cooney talks about how she felt her 20s were wasted not making a difference until she learned about educational television and did everything she could to get involved. 

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

Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely
Founder, Spanx

“My life was laying the groundwork for Spanx,” Sara Blakely says. After attending Florida State University, she planned on becoming an attorney. But she failed the LSAT...

Suzanne Braun Levine
Suzanne Braun Levine
Author & First Editor, Ms. Magazine

Suzanne Braun Levine was the first editor of "Ms." magazine (1972-1988), and the first woman editor of the prestigious "Columbia Journalism Review". Suzanne...

Alexis Jones
Alexis Jones
Female Empowerment Speaker

As a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Alexis Jones followed her dreams and encourages young girls to do the same. She first gained worldwide exposure as one of the final cont...

Maureen Towey
Maureen Towey
Theater Director

Maureen Towey is a Brooklyn-based director, specializing in visual and performance-based projects and serves as the Creative Director for the indie rock band, Arcade Fire. She also...