Dolly Parton Receives First-Ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award

Dolly Parton has striven to help as many people as possible with efforts that have been recognized by Leadership Tennessee.

Written by Lauren Laffer
Dolly Parton Receives First-Ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award
Dolly Parton; Photo credit: Patrick Sheehan

Dolly Parton came from a small town in the Rocky Mountains with little to nothing. With a lot of hard work and self-determination, Parton went on to create a massively-successful career for herself, with projects in music, movies and travel (to name a few). Those opportunities have garnered a need in Parton to assist those who need it in whatever capacity.

Because of her dedication to give back, the Tennessee native was presented with the first-ever Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award. Her contributions to the Volunteer State have continued over generations, and include her Emmy-winning Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, which raised more than $12.5 million for her My People Fund to assist those devastated by the Gatlinburg wildfires.

Parton has also brought the pages of the most beloved children’s books to millions of young kids with her Imagination Library. Since its launch in 1995, Parton has delivered more than 100 million books to children across five countries and three continents.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

“Tennessee has many talented sons and daughters but there are few who are as beloved as Dolly Parton,” First Lady Crissy Haslam, chair of the Fifth Anniversary Committee, added. “And while she may be most known for her music, she has undoubtedly proved to be an exemplar of leadership through her generosity, humility, inclusiveness, expertise and passion. As a state, we are indebted to all that Dolly has done for Tennessee and its people; there is no one better suited for the very first Excellence in Leadership Award.”

The Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award was designed to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of Leadership Tennessee The organization connects a diverse network of problem solvers and engaged Tennessee citizens across geographic and professional boundaries. 40 leaders are chosen annually to take part in the leadership study course. For more information about Leadership Tennessee, visit