Sesame Workshop Names New Head of Creative (Exclusive)

Kay Wilson Stallings replaces Brown Johnson, who retired in May.
Courtesy of Sesame Workshop
Kay Wilson Stallings and Elmo

Sesame Workshop has a new head of creative.

Following a seven-month-long search, Kay Wilson Stallings has been promoted to serve as the exec vp creative and production of the nonprofit media and education division behind Sesame Street. Wilson Stallings, who was senior vp creative development, immediately replaces Brown Johnson at the helm of the division. Johnson retired in May following a five-year run in the job.

"Kay is the right leader to helm Sesame Workshop’s creative efforts as we embark on our next 50 years,” said Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey D Dunn. “Beyond possessing a true wealth of knowledge and experience in creating thoughtful children’s programming, Kay is passionate about our ethos and mission – to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. In her nearly five years at Sesame Workshop, she has been a champion for new and diverse voices in all areas of the creative process, from founding the Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room to the animated screen. The future of our educational programming is in outstanding hands.”

Wilson Stallings joins Dunn’s executive leadership team and reports to president of media and education and COO Steve Youngwood. 

“Kay brings energy and imagination to every project she leads, along with a passion for helping kids and families,” said Steve Youngwood, president of media and education and COO at Sesame Workshop. “She inspires excellence and welcomes a range of voices to the creative process. We are thrilled that she will lead our creative team as they continue to develop innovative, impactful content." 

In her new role, Wilson Stallings will oversee Sesame Street's domestic production, beginning with work on its forthcoming 52nd season. She will work closely with Sesame Workshop’s international teams to expand the iconic program's global presence. She will oversee all of Sesame Workshop's current productions, including content at PBS, WarnerMedia-backed HBO Max (The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo, Esme & Roy) and at Apple TV+, where the company has a first-look pact. The division has a number of children's programs currently in the works, including Ghostwriter and Helpers, with other new series and shortform content also in the works. She will also have oversight of Sesame Studios fare for YouTube.

“I am excited and honored by the opportunity to lead the creative team at Sesame Workshop,” said Wilson Stallings. “The television I watched growing up, including Sesame Street, greatly influenced the person I am today. The chance to help shape the creative of Sesame Street — and all of the current and future beloved programs in the Sesame Workshop family — is a dream come true.”

Wilson Stallings joined Sesame Workshop in 2015 as senior vp creative, overseeing new content creation for Apple, HBO Max and PBS. Content developed under her purview has earned 17 Daytime Emmy nominations. In 2017, she founded the Sesame Street Writers' Room, a fellowship aimed at developing talent from underrepresented racial backgrounds. The program has featured 34 fellows so far, with several moving on to writing gigs at Disney, Nick Jr., Netflix and DreamWorks.

Wilson Stallings came to Sesame Workshop from Nickelodeon, where she spent 16 years in roles including senior vp development and working on titles including Yo Gabba Gabba, among several others. She takes over the top creative job at Sesame Workshop after Sesame Street recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and as it continues to grow the beloved brand. Sesame Workshop recently produced a few Town Halls geared for kids that addressed COVID-19 and racial injustice and aired on CNN. The division also recently announced production on Mecha Builders, its first-ever CGI-animated Sesame Street spinoff.

For her part, Johnson joined Sesame Workshop from Nickelodeon in 2014.