Sherrie Westin is President of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street
Sherrie Westin is President of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is the 2022 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership.
Westin leads the organization’s efforts to serve vulnerable children through mass media and targeted initiatives in the United States and around the world. She serves as Sesame Workshop’s chief mission ambassador, raising awareness, developing strategic partnerships, and cultivating philanthropic support to further the Workshop’s mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.
Previously, Westin served as Sesame Workshop’s President of Social Impact and Philanthropy. In that role, she spearheaded a partnership to create the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response, bringing critical early education to refugee children in the Syrian response region. Working with the International Rescue Committee, she led Sesame Workshop’s efforts to compete for and win a historic $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to fund this work. With an additional $100 million grant from the LEGO Foundation, this initiative has expanded to Bangladesh. She also oversees Sesame Street in Communities, Sesame’s comprehensive initiative designed to give children the tools they need to overcome traumatic experiences.
Westin was named a “Leading Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy Magazine and one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.” She was also recognized with the Smithsonian’s “American Ingenuity Award.” A staunch advocate for addressing children’s needs, she regularly appears on major media outlets to highlight the value of investing in early childhood development, especially for the most vulnerable children.
Westin has held leadership positions in media, nonprofit, and public service. She was Assistant to the President for Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs for President George H.W. Bush, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and she held senior positions at the ABC Television Network and U.S. News & World Report.
Westin is Chair of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an independent research and innovation lab named for Sesame Street’s Founder. Westin serves on the boards of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Communities in Schools, and Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, the Early Childhood Peace Consortium Advisory Board, and serves on the Early Childhood Development Action Network Education Leadership Council.
Westin is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia College in New York.
Westin serves on the boards of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Communities in Schools, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.
On the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13 (known locally as Founder’s Day), the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello join together to present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals to recognize achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard. These medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University of Virginia, which grants no honorary degrees. For information on Founder’s Day, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals and the 2020 recipients, click here.
Past Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership Recipients »