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Linda Simensky, one of the most respected animation executives around, has a new job — at a tech company.

She has joined language learning app Duolingo as its first head of animation and scripted content.

Here are the details:

  • In her new role, Simensky will help spearhead the company’s push into original content featuring the app’s cast of characters.
  • Her purview includes original animation, writing for the Duolingo Stories fictional tales and Duolingo ABC literacy app for young children, podcasts, and more.
  • She reports to Timothy Shey, Duolingo’s vp of studios and content.
  • Starting last year, Duolingo has introduced a diverse cast of characters into its language lessons. Each has its own voice, personality, and backstory.
  • In August, Shey told Fast Company he was “trying to create Sesame Street for grown-ups.” He added, “our competition isn’t other language-learning apps. It’s things like Youtube, Netflix.”
  • Simensky was most recently head of kids’ content at PBS. She spent 18 years at the pubcaster, overseeing shows like Wild Kratts, Molly Of Denali, and Alma’s Way.
  • Previously, she was svp of original animation for Cartoon Network, shepherding shows such as The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, and Samurai Jack to the screen. She began her career with a nine-year stint at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch such popular series as Rugrats, Doug, and The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Duolingo's cast of characters
Duolingo’s updated cast of characters introduced in 2020.

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.