Lesley Bourns, Senior Vice President, International Social Impact

Lesley Bourns

Senior Vice President, International Social Impact

Lesley Bourns is Senior Vice President of International Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, overseeing the development and execution of media-driven, high impact educational initiatives that help young children, particularly those facing marginalization and exclusion, grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. 

Bourns brings over 20 years of international nonprofit experience to her role, focused on humanitarian and human rights issues. She manages the international social impact group, which oversees Sesame Workshop’s international programs and country offices. Together with Sesame’s experts in production, education, and research, these teams harness the power of media and the Muppets of Sesame Street to deliver impact in focus areas spanning Emotional Well-being; Self and Belonging; Language, Literacy and Stem; and Creativity and Playful Problem Solving. Since joining Sesame Workshop in 2019, Bourns has provided leadership for the Play to Learn project, a six-year, multi-country project that leverages media, innovative program delivery, and advocacy to improve access, funding, and quality of early childhood development in crisis-affected settings, with a focus on Rohingya communities in Bangladesh and refugee and host communities in the Middle East. Taken together with the Workshop’s broader experience supporting children facing crisis and conflict, including the groundbreaking Ahlan Simsim program, this area of work is now a focus area, housed in a broader Welcome Sesame initiative. Before joining the Workshop, Bourns worked with a range of humanitarian and human rights organizations including on humanitarian policy and innovation with United Nations, OCHA; donor cultivation and strategy development at the International Center for Transitional Justice; and with international and national humanitarian NGOs in East Africa and the Middle East, such as Mercy Corps and Adeso.

Bourns holds a BA in Sociology from Vassar College and an MA from Columbia University in International Affairs. 

Contact for Speaking Engagements
Sesame Workshop Speakers Bureau

Rosita at a picnic with a family.

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