Journey Gunderson

Executive Director, National Comedy Center, Inc.

Journey Gunderson is the Executive Director of the National Comedy Center, the first national-scale non-profit cultural institution and visitor experience dedicated to comedy. The $50 million dollar public-private endeavor backed by NYS Empire State Development and I Love NY™ includes an immersive exhibit experience designed by renowned creative firms Jack Rouse Associates and Local Projects, the firm awarded the Cannes International Creativity Award for its work on the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The National Comedy Center, Inc. also produces the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum in Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York. This year Chautauqua is partnering with the Comedy Festival, which will take place take place during our Week Six.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival draws more than 10,000 attendees from more than 40 States annually, and has welcomed Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Joan Rivers, Martin Short, Lewis Black, Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres and more than 100 other comedic artists. 2016 featured Trevor Noah, Brian Regan and Lewis Black, and 2017 will feature Jim Gaffigan and other performers to be named.

In May 2016, Gunderson produced, “Satire & Democracy: Empowering the Citizenry with Comedy,” a panel discussion held at the Paley Center for Media in New York featuring Lewis Black, Robert Klein, Larry Wilmore, Lizz Winstead, and Kelly Carlin in honor of George Carlin’s legacy and to commemorate the donation of his extensive archives to the National Comedy Center.

In 2015, Gunderson produced the National Comedy Center’s Groundbreaking Weekend, including “David Letterman: Behind the Scenes of Late Night’s Longest Running Broadcaster,” with Regis Philbin and the award-winning creative team from Letterman’s 33-year career, and “Carlin, Rivers, Ramis: Comedy Legacies,” featuring Melissa Rivers, Kelly Carlin and Violet and Julian Ramis, which was broadcast on SiriusXM during the launch of its new “Comedy Greats” Channel.

Journey has been named one of Buffalo Business First’s “Top-Forty-Under-Forty,” Chautauqua County’s Person of the Year, and the YWCA Women of Achievement’s “Young Leader of the Future.” In 2014, she was asked to join a nationwide panel of comedy industry professionals as a voter in NBC’s American Comedy Awards.

Prior to the Jamestown, Journey spent six years with the Women’s Sports Foundation, the most powerful women’s sports organization in the world. She served as Editorial Director and Educational Media Producer from both New York City and San Sebastian, Spain. At the WSF she co-authored the two-time National Health Award-winning GoGirlGo! Educational Curriculum, and covered ESPN’s X Games from Aspen, Colorado for three years. In her own role as an athlete, she competed in the NCAA Division III national championship tournament in volleyball in 2004, and placed 2nd in the East Coast Surfing Association’s New York State Championship, Women’s Longboard Surfing division in 2006.

A magna cum laude graduate with a B.S. in Sports Information and Communications from Ithaca College, and a recipient of the Ithaca Alumni Leadership Service Award, Journey is also part of Chautauqua’s pride, because, as granddaughter of Chautauqua’s beloved Winnie Lewellen, Journey grew up at Chautauqua and considers Chautauqua her spiritual home!