Sherrie Rollins Westin

Sherrie Rollins Westin

Advisory Board Member
President, Sesame Workshop
Sherrie Rollins Westin

President, Sesame Workshop

Sherrie Westin is President of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. Westin leads the organization’s efforts to serve vulnerable children through mass media and targeted initiatives in the United States and around the world.

Westin spearheaded a partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to bring critical early education to children in the Syrian response region, which was awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s first ever $100 million grant, creating the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response. This work has expanded to reach children affected by crisis in Bangladesh, East Africa, Latin America, and those who have been forcibly displaced from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Westin has held leadership positions in media, nonprofit, and public service. She served as 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 for Housing and Urban Development and held senior positions at the ABC Television Network and U.S. News & World Report.
Westin was named a “Leading Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy Magazine, one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” was recognized with the Smithsonian’s “American Ingenuity Award”, and the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Citizen Leadership.
Westin chairs the Board of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and serves on the boards of the U.S. Global Leadership Council, Communities in Schools, and Vital Voices Global Partnership, and leadership council of the Early Childhood Education Action Network. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council.
Westin is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia College.


  1. Medium – Helping refugee children get back to learning. Retrieved from 

  2. Medium – For young refugees, no education means no future. So Elmo is going overseas to help. Retrieved from

​Media Appearances

  1. ABC News Nightline – Sesame Street visits children at Jordan refugee camp. Terry Moran travels to Lebanon to cover how Sesame Workshop and the IRC are working to bring hope and education to children in war-torn countries. Retrieved from

  2. MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change Competition: The Finalists Live Presentation. Sherrie Westin and David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, present our proposal to bring early childhood education to Syrian refugees for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition to fund a single proposal that promises measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time. Retrieved from 

  3. Business of Giving Podcast. Cecilia Conrad of the MacArthur Foundation, Beverly Postma of HarvestPlus and Sherrie Westin join host Denver Frederick to discuss/recap the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition including our proposal to bring early education to Syrian refugee children and how winning will allow Sesame and the IRC to create the largest childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response. Retrieved from

  4. Foreign Policy Magazine – Elmo Joins the Forever War. “Sesame Street” is heading to Syrian refugee camps, a blessing for kids with little hope. Better yet, experts say, Elmo and friends can help fight extremism. Retrieved from 

  5. NPR All Things Considered – With $100 Million Grant, Sesame Workshop Reaches Out To Refugee Kids. In January, Sesame Workshop and the IRC will start work on the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response. Here’s how they’ll do it. Retrieved from

  6. The New York Times – MacArthur Grant Will Create ‘Sesame Street’ for Syrian Refugees. The Muppets are taking the Middle East. The MacArthur Foundation announced that it was awarding $100 million to Sesame Workshop and the IRC to create early childhood development programs for Syrian refugees. Retrieved from

  7. Smithsonian Magazine – Why the Team Behind Sesame Street Created a Character With Autism. The bravest new face on television is a Muppet that doesn’t say much. But she speaks volumes about life on the spectrum. Retrieved from 

  8. Global Citizen Movement Makers Summit – The Power of Puppets: P&G and Sesame Workshop Explain Gender Equality in India. Sherrie Westin and P&G’s Tara Hogan-Charles discuss how to move the dial on girls education, with a special appearance by Chamki, a girl Muppet from India’s version of Sesame Street. Retrieved from 

  9. Sesame Workshop Accepts Asia Society Asia Game Changer Award. Sherrie Westin accepts the Asia Society’s Game Changer Award for proving that learning can be fun – and have a profound impact – anywhere in the world. Retrieved from

  10. The Washington Post – Sesame Street launches tools to help children who experience trauma, from hurricanes to violence at home. Sesame Workshop is releasing new content to teach children strategies to cope with traumatic experiences, whether they are unexpected, like a hurricane or flood, or ongoing. Retrieved from 

  11. Glamour | The Girl Project – The Smart Way ‘Sesame Street’ Is Tackling the Refugee Crisis. More than 65 million people are displaced by violence, half of them children. Three million kids with no school to go to. An entire generation traumatized by war, their country destroyed in the fighting. Time to send in Elmo.  Retrieved from

  12. Sesame Street and the IRC Team Up for Refugee Children – Sherrie Westin and David Miliband discuss our partnership to bring invaluable early learning, laughter, and hope to millions of children who need it most. Retrieved from 

  13. Fast Company – Most Creative People 2017 – Sherrie Westin is named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People for reaching children everywhere. Retrieved from

  14. NPR All Things Considered – When Elmo And Big Bird Talk To Refugees. How Sesame Workshop is doing its homework as it launches a new program to bring early childhood education to refugee children. Retrieved from 

  15. Foreign Policy – FP Global Thinkers 2016. Sherrie Westin and Sarah Smith of IRC are named FP Global Thinkers for promoting equality with puppets. Retrieved from

  16. The Guardian – Sherrie Westin: the Sesame Street exec helping kids of all cultures. A Sesame Street leader going beyond her duties. Retrieved from 

  17. Womenthology – Using early education as the solution to many of the world’s most challenging issues – Q&A with Sherrie Westin. Retrieved from

  18. Reuters – Afghan ‘Sesame Street’ adds girl power with first homegrown Muppet. For a small girl, Zari has a big mission: to promote female empowerment in a nation where women and children were almost completely excluded from educational opportunities some 15 years ago. Retrieved from

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