Entrepreneurs Lyda Hill of Dallas, Manu Chandaria of Kenya, and Lynn and Stacy Schusterman of the Oklahoma investing family are also being recognized.
The award was established in 2001 and is typically given out every two years to recognize innovative philanthropists. It is sponsored by the global family of Carnegie institutions. In 2021, it was not released because of the pandemic.
On October 13, a secret event will take place in New York to award the medals to the 2022 awardees. The ceremony places a high priority on encouraging in-person encounters to promote idea sharing and prospective teamwork, which the awardees for this year have already done, said Eric Isaacs, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science and a member of the medal selection committee.
Parton’s $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received plenty of attention. But her fellow honoree Hill, through her Lyda Hill Philanthropies, was also an early donor to the work that would yield the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“I invested before it was anything,” Hill told The Associated Press. “One of the things that Warren Buffett said that stuck with me was, ‘Don’t do what other people can do and will do. Do what other people can’t do and won’t do. And take risks.’ I have had to apply that to my philanthropic investments.”
Hill, who focuses her funding on advances in science and nature conservancy, as well as supporting women in those careers, said she never did get a Moderna shot.
“Unfortunately,” Hill said, “when I went to get my vaccine, I rolled my sleeves up and said, ‘What do you got?’ And she said, ‘Pfizer.’ I said, ‘OK.’”
Parton, in a statement, said she was honored to receive the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
“I’ve always believed that if you are in a position to help, you should help, and I truly hope that I can be an inspiration for others to lift up those around them,” said Parton, who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November, and makes most of her donations through her Dollywood Foundation. “Whether through my Imagination Library or giving to COVID-19 research, I try to support things that have a special meaning for me. I hope everyone can find something they’re passionate about supporting and do what they can to help make this world a better place.”
Considering the intense need created by COVID-19, the pandemic was top of mind while the selection committee was making its decisions, Isaacs said.
“Obviously, this is a very difficult time with the pandemic,” he said. “But we think environmental issues are probably equally, if not more, impactful in the sense that pandemics like COVID-19 are likely to become more frequent as the atmosphere heats up. I think we take the long view in terms of our selections.”
The Schustermans exemplify philanthropists whose donations have made a long-lasting impact, in addition to making timely grants to address current needs.
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation was established in 1987 to invest in systemic change in the United States and Israel on matters of justice and equity. When Charles died in 2000, Lynn Schusterman took over the foundation, expanding its work and becoming an outspoken advocate for inclusion, especially for the LGBTQ community. In 2018, their daughter Stacy Schusterman took over the foundation, which changed its name last year to Schusterman Family Philanthropies and now also includes work in reproductive equity, voting rights and criminal justice all hot-button issues this summer.
“I hope that work like this will inspire other people to give more now,” Stacy Schusterman told the AP. “It’s important for people to give a meaningful percentage of their family’s assets. And I think the partnership that can exist between philanthropy and the communities that we’re seeking to help is vital. Government can’t address all problems.”