Nashville — Leadership Tennessee awarded Dolly Parton its Dolly Parton Excellence in Leadership Award Saturday night in Nashville.
The organization said it was "for her selfless work to improve lives across Tennessee."
“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 news release from Leadership Tennessee. “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.”
The release says Parton’s contributions to the Volunteer State are transformational and selfless to generations of Tennesseans.
Leadership Tennessee pointed to Parton's Emmy-winning "Smoky Mountains Rise" telethon that raised more than $12.5 million for her My People Fund.
That fund provided financial assistance for victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016.
Along with her music, Parton created her Imagination Library.
It mails free books to children from birth until they begin school.
Since its launch in 1995, the program has mailed more than 100 million books to children in five different countries on three different continents, according to Leadership Tennessee.
“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 said. “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, designed and created by artist and Nashville native Ben Caldwell, marked the culmination of a year celebrating Leadership Tennessee’s fifth anniversary.