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Sesame Workshop Announces Reorganization

Six months into his tenure, Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn announces four new executive appointments and outlines new leadership structure.

Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn New York, NY -- Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn announced four new appointments to his executive team as part of a broad reorganization he is undertaking six months into his tenure. The effort realigns the Workshop’s strategy and structure to better deliver on its mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

Steve Youngwood joins the Workshop as Chief Operating Officer; Sherrie Westin takes on the new role of Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy; Brown Johnson joins the Workshop as Executive Vice President and Creative Director; and Joseph Salvo joins as Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

“I came to Sesame Workshop with a single goal in mind: to help reimagine and reinvigorate a great institution for the challenges ahead. The need for our global mission has never been greater – but so, too, are the challenges that our mission faces. To adapt to the changed industry financial models and expanded delivery systems, we need to change as an organization. And that is the focus of this reorganization,” said Mr. Dunn.

To further increase the Workshop’s contribution and impact, Mr. Dunn identified the three core elements of the Workshop’s strategy going forward:

  • Making great content for both the informal and formal education markets
  • Researching the behavior of kids and parents for wide dissemination and use by the general public
  • Instigating the work of others who share the Workshop’s goals and values

Mr. Dunn’s new organization removes the current functional silos and creates a leadership structure organized around business units and geography. Mr. Youngwood will run the Media and Education unit, which includes all of the Workshop’s global commercial endeavors. Ms. Westin will oversee Social Impact and Philanthropy, which includes domestic and international community engagement, as well as global philanthropic development. Reporting to them will be country managers responsible for managing the business across defined geographic regions.

“In putting together this leadership team I’m marrying some of the best minds in kids’ content with the passion and commitment that has made Sesame Workshop beloved around the world for more than four decades. This structure recognizes the different businesses that the Workshop engages in and provides for the agile decision making needed to compete in today’s marketplace,” said Mr. Dunn.

Mr. Youngwood is a senior global executive with an accomplished history of building businesses and brands at the intersection of media, content and technology. Most recently, Youngwood was Executive Vice President & General Manager of Digital Media & Entertainment Products at Nickelodeon. His responsibilities included leading the company’s digital efforts across websites, mobile, social, connected TVs and other emerging platforms. Previously, he held senior management positions at Viacom relating to the Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount brands. He brings a broad background in media ranging from TV to digital to print to consumer products. Earlier in his career, he was a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company. He is also currently on the Board of Directors of Leapfrog Enterprises.

Until this appointment, Ms. Westin served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Sesame Workshop. In that role she has been responsible for the overall strategic positioning of the Workshop and Sesame Street around the world — as well as for the Workshop’s efforts to drive revenue growth through sponsorship, philanthropic development and product licensing to support its mission-driven work. Westin came to the Workshop from ABC, where she served as Executive Vice President of Network Communications. She previously served in the first Bush White House as Assistant to the President for Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Ms. Johnson, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, will be responsible for domestic TV content development and production as well as creative services. Johnson is an award-winning producer of some of the most successful children’s programs. Before joining the Workshop, she served as President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon where she managed development and production of more than 200 episodes of programming each year. Johnson pioneered the interactive format of the groundbreaking preschool programs Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. She also conceived and oversaw the development of the Nickelodeon preschool block featuring hit shows including Go Diego Go!Yo Gabba Gabba!Team UmiZoomiThe Backyardigans and Ni Hao Kai Lan.

Mr. Salvo, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, will be responsible for all the company’s legal work, business affairs and government relations. He is the current General Counsel of HiT Entertainment, now a division of Mattel. In addition to his HiT GC responsibilities, Mr. Salvo is responsible for legal work supporting Mattel’s content creation, content distribution, consumer products licensing, publishing and live events and attractions businesses. He is also an Adjunct Professor of law at St John’s University School of Law, a past President of the Copyright Society of the USA, and a former litigator with Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street which reaches 156 million children across more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Delivered through a variety of platforms, including television programs, digital experiences, books and community engagement, its research-based programs are tailored to the needs of the communities and countries they serve.

Source: Sesame Workshop

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.