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The Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room fellowship program debuted in 2017. Since then, we’ve selected 24 writers from across the United States to work with and mentor in-house, while also connecting them to the wider children’s media industry. Many fellows have gone on to develop their own concepts with Sesame Workshop, as well as write for Sesame Street and various programs at Nickelodeon, Disney, DreamWorks, and more.
Here’s a program that’s actually making deals—that’s when it matters.
Nayna Agrawal|North Hollywood, CA
Featured in Variety's "100 Writers to Watch" (2015), Nayna is a former NYC investment analyst, SF community foundation VP, DC legislative writer and Asia-based international aid director in anti-trafficking initiatives. In 2017, in addition to being a Moving Arts Theater fellow and a video game writer, she was a finalist for Screenwriters Colony, the O'Neil Playwrights Conference, the PlayPenn fellowship and the Stella Adler playwright-in-residence.
Sara El-Behiri|New York, NY
Sara spent six years working in television before realizing her true calling in children's media. She spent the last two years working at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has a passion for animation that delights and expands the imagination.
Cynthia Furey|Los Angeles, CA
Cynthia is a sitcom writer, food journalist, and graduate of the University of California, Irvine. She’s worked as a restaurant critic and recipe developer for such publications as The Orange County Register, the Zagat Restaurant Guides and Google. Cynthia also is an alumna of the NBC Diversity Scene Showcase and the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program in television. She is a culinary school survivor.
Vanessa Garcia|Miami, FL
Vanessa Garcia is a playwright, novelist, and journalist. Her novel, White Light, was one of NPRs Best Books of 2015. Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and numerous other publications. One of her first words was “Mig-Mon,” which, in her early language, translated to “Big Bird.”
Michael Rodriguez|New York, NY
Michael is a comedy writer from Columbia University and is especially interested in finding humor at the intersection of identity and the western canon. He is a student at UCB NY, and a librettist at the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, and hopes to write memorable stories that inspire young audiences.
Roxy Simons|New York, NY
Roxy is a UCB trained comedy writer with a degree in English from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She writes for the New York City-based sketch comedy troupe BoogieManja. Roxy’s goal is to create better representation on TV, especially for young girls of color.
Darnell Walker|Charlottesville, VA
Darnell is a writer, cultural anthropologist, and documentary filmmaker, traveling the globe in search of the stories people don’t know they need to hear and see. The Most Beautiful Thing in the World, his first children’s book, and other content he creates for children is secretly dedicated to his younger self and publicly dedicated to all the children who long for something familiar.
Sarina Bajwa|New York, NY
Sarina is a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University and she has always channeled her creativity, whether as a first grade teacher or a K-12 youth program activist.
Joon Chung|Staten Island, NY
Joon is a comedian who studied at the University of Michigan, but his passion for storytelling led him to performing and writing. He received a grant from Staten Island Arts for his web series We Love Our Customers. Joon hopes to create lasting characters he wished he could've seen growing up.
Ariana Espirtu|San Francisco, CA
Ariana is a writer, editor, and researcher. Since attending the University of California, Irvine, her work has largely focused on demystifying health information, covering topics such as mental health and sex education. She also wrote Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, an educational play about math geared towards fourth to eighth graders.
Monique Hall|Paterson, NJ
Monique is a recent graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her interests lie at the intersection of media, learning, design, and storytelling. She hopes to write stories that are both delightful and meaningful in their representation of voices that don’t often get heard.
Keion Jackson|Port Allen, LA
Keion is an author, playwright, and filmmaker, with a degree from Clark Atlanta University. His work made the rounds at film festivals, and his most recent stage play was performed Off-Broadway. Keion’s goal is to make people laugh, feel good, and remember the things in life that matter most.
Jehan Madhani|Houston, TX
Jehan is a recent graduate of Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She wrote a thesis about romantic comedies and animated a short film about a small frog, FrogBoy. Alongside her studies, Jehan performed sketch comedy.
Rebecca Nichloson|New York, NY
Rebecca is the author of over a dozen creative works and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an America-in-Play fellowship, two Many Voices Fellowships, and a Liberace Award. She holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University, an M.A. in English Literature, and a B.A. in Liberal Arts/Business Administration.
Joy Regullano|Los Angeles, CA
Joy has performed on improv and sketch house teams around LA at UCB, Second City Hollywood, and iO West and had one of her original sketch shows picked up for a run at UCB Franklin. Her writing has placed in the Page Awards Top 25 comedy pilots and WeScreenplay Diverse Voices finals.
Erica Branch-RidleyHITN Learning, VP of Creative Development and Production
Two-time Emmy Award winning Erica Branch-Ridley oversees multi-platform approaches to learning for preschoolers at Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN). Her work combines touchscreen apps and games with traditional learning methods, to address the academic and socio-emotional needs for young Hispanic chidren and their families. Prior to HITN, Erica worked at Sesame Workshop, where she led digital strategy for the children’s TV show The Electric Company. Erica was also Sr. Producer at Nickelodeon Online where she created the first fully interactive experiences for Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer.
Janice BurgessThe Backyardigans, Creator/Executive Producer
Janice created and served as executive producer of the Emmy Award winning preschool series The Backyardigans for Nickelodeon. As an executive-in-charge of production and then Vice President at Nick Jr., she oversaw the production of Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Nick Jr. shows including Blue’s Clues, Little Bill and Whoopi’s Littleburg. In 2015 - 2016, Janice served as Executive Consultant for DreamWorks Animation Television. Her latest project is Enchanting Leela, in development with Canadian animation studio Nelvana Ltd.
Koyalee ChandaWallykazam!, Co‐Executive Producer
Koyalee is a seven‐time Emmy nominated producer, director and writer. She is the Creator and Executive Producer of an animated series currently in development with Dreamworks Animation based on Where’s Waldo? Previously, she was the Co‐Executive Producer of Nickelodeon’s hit series Wallykazam! Prior to that, she produced the pilot for the now hit series Odd Squad. For Sesame Street, Koyalee developed, produced and directed multiple seasons of the What’s the Word on the Street? Koyalee’s first job out of college was on the ground‐breaking series Blue’s Clues, and she began directing the series at the age of 23.
Nina CrewsThe Neighborhood Mother Goose, Children’s Book Author/Illustrator
Nina has written and illustrated many energetic stories for young children including The Neighborhood Mother Goose and Below – both ALA Notable selections. Her books have been recognized by the Cooperative Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild, and Bank Street College of Education. Her most recent books are The Neighborhood Sing-Along and Jack and the Beanstalk. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.
Billy LopezWelcome to the Wayne, Creator/Co-Executive Producer
Billy is a writer and musician from New York City. He created Welcome to the Wayne, an animated comedy, for Nickelodeon, and has written scripts, lyrics and music for various preschool shows, including The Wonder Pets!, 3rd and Bird, and Peg + Cat. Billy lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two kids, and a husky named after Spike from Cowboy Bebop.
Chris NeeDoc McStuffins, Creator/Executive Producer
Peabody, Humanitas and Emmy Award-winner Chris Nee is the creator and executive producer of Disney Junior's Peabody Award-winning series Doc McStuffins. She is also executive producer of Disney Junior's upcoming animated series Vampirina. Chris has received multiple Emmy Award nominations for writing and won an Emmy in 2002 for her work on Little Bill, based on the children's books by Bill Cosby. Other writing credits include American Dragon: Jake Long, Johnny and the Sprites, Higglytown Heroes, The Backyardigans and Olivia. Chris began her career as an associate producer at Sesame Street International.
Adam PeltzmanWallykazam!, Creator/Executive Producer
Adam Peltzman is a three-time Emmy winning creator, writer and producer. Recent shows include the Nickelodeon series Wallykazam! (Creator and Executive Producer), the PBS series Odd Squad (Co-Creator and Co-Executive Producer), and the WNYC scripted podcast series, This Podcast Has Fleas (Co-Creator and Executive Producer). Additional head writer credits include The Electric Company, The Backyardigans and Blue's Clues. Adam has done development work for Nickelodeon, Disney, Amazon, Sesame Workshop, Dreamworks, The Jim Henson Company and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Adam has helped adapt two TV shows into live theatrical productions which have toured nationally, and has written several short comedic plays that have been produced throughout the U.S.
Maria Perez-BrownGullah Gullah Island, Executive Producer
Named one of the most powerful women and minorities in the cable industry for 2012 and 2011 by Cable Fax Magazine, Maria has over 20 years of experience developing and producing content for leading brands including Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., ABC, CBS, and NuvoTV. She was the creator and executive producer of critically acclaimed Taina. She also created the landmark pre-school series Gullah Gullah Island, which TV Guide recognized as one of the nation’s “top 10 television shows”. Most recently, Maria was CEO of Zwoosh Media, a company that specializes in producing children’s content across linear and digital platforms.
Rosemarie T. Truglio, Ph.D.Sesame Street, SVP of Curriculum and Content
Rosemarie is the Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop. She is responsible for the development of the interdisciplinary curriculum on which Sesame Street is based and oversees content development across platforms (e.g., television, publishing, toys, home video, and theme park activities). She is also responsible for curriculum development for all Creative Development properties. Previously, Rosemarie managed an interdisciplinary global content team responsible for all global co‐productions and content development across all media platforms, including digital media.