Leadership Tennesee, an organization that brings together 40 leaders across the state to collaborate on ideas and problem-solving, recently awarded Dolly Parton with a special honor made specifically for the country music icon. The Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award was created to recognize Parton's incredible contributions to the state of Tennesee and its people.
In addition to performing, singing, songwriting, making plans to update Dollywood, and working hard enough to land on the Forbes top ten list of highest paid country stars, Parton manages to find time to give back to her community. Her nonprofit, Imagination Library, began in 1995 as a way to mail free books to children (regardless of family income) before they started school in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Parton grew up. Soon, the reach of Imagination Library grew to serve the whole state, and now, the organization has sent over 100 million books out around the world.
Parton also raised $2.5 million for her My People Fund during the Emmy-winning Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon. The money was raised to benefit recovery efforts after the Gatlinburg Wildfires that ravaged the Great Smoky Mountains in late 2016.
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Parton was given the first-ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award this month during a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to celebrate her selfless work. Leadership Tennessee officials conceptualized the award to help mark the special fifth anniversary of the organization.
"My dream was to make as many people happy as I could in this life, and I am grateful to Leadership Tennessee and First Lady Crissy Haslam for recognizing our work done to improve the lives of all Tennesseans," Parton said about the award. "Even more humbling is for decades to come the future leaders of Tennessee will receive an award with the Parton family name attached to it, and for that I am truly honored and thankful."