Joan Ganz Cooney is an American television producer. She is one of the founders of the Children's Television Network, the organization famous for the creation of the children's television show Sesame Street, which was also co-created by her. Cooney grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and earned a B.A. degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1951. After working for the State Department in Washington, D.C. and as a journalist in Phoenix, she worked as a publicist for television and production companies in New York City. In 1961, she became interested in working for educational television, and became a documentary producer for New York's first educational TV station WNET. Many of the programs she produced won local Emmys.
In 1966, Cooney hosted what she called "a little dinner party" at her apartment near Gramercy Park. In attendance was her husband Tim Cooney, her boss Lewis Freedman, and Lloyd Morrisett, an executive at the Carnegie Corporation, in which the potential of television to teach young children was discussed. Cooney was chosen to oversee and direct the creation of what eventually became the children's television program Sesame Street, which premiered in 1969, and the CTW, the organization that oversaw its production. Cooney was named CTW's first executive director. As one of the first female executives in American television, her appointment was called "one of the most important television developments of the decade".