Of course Dolly Parton helped fund the Moderna vaccine

One of the few unifying figures has done it again.

The 53rd Annual CMA Awards - Show

Dolly Parton performs onstage at the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The country legend donated money that went to early COVID vaccine research. Mickey Bernal—WireImage/Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Judy Shelton’s Fed nomination fails to advance, competitors bid for Simon & Schuster, and Dolly Parton does good. Have a good Wednesday.

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This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Judy Shelton’s Fed nomination fails to advance, competitors bid for Simon & Schuster, and Dolly Parton does good. Have a good Wednesday.

The greatest gift of all. Last year, the New York Times deemed Dolly Parton the one thing “we can all agree on.” Indeed, the 74-year-old country legend had found a new following among a younger audience thanks to a podcast and a Netflix special. Her appeal seemed to span generations and political ideologies.

And this week she cemented her feel-good, bipartisan credentials by adding a new line to her bio: pandemic hero.

The title is, of course, exaggerated, but it’s true that the singer-songwriter had a hand in funding the Moderna vaccine that’s proven to be 94.5% effective in late-stage trials. Parton said in April that she’d donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University in Nashville after learning from a friend that researchers there were working on a COVID-19 vaccine. The gift, named the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund, went toward early research by Dr. Mark Denison that helped produce the Moderna vaccine.

The U.S. government later invested $1 billion in the project as part of Operation Warp Speed, but Denison has said that Parton’s donation “helped us develop the test that we used to first show that the Moderna vaccine was giving people a good immune response that might protect them.”

Parton’s unexpected role in the development of a vaccine pleased Dolly fans to the point that there’s now a version of ‘Jolene’ reworked to feature ‘Vaccine’ bouncing around the Internet, thanks to linguist Gretchen McCulloch, author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, who tweeted out fitting lyrics. “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine I’m begging you, please go in my arm.”

Now McCulloch is suggesting another role for Parton: an ambassador for the vaccine, once it’s ready for distribution. Considering the current level of divisiveness, especially about the pandemic, if Parton doesn’t assume that task, whoever does is going to need Dolly Parton-level mass appeal.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– Book business. Simon & Schuster, led by publisher Dana Canedy (No. 50 on Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women ranking) has a growing list of interested buyers. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns Harper Collins, is competing with German media group Bertelsmann, which owns Penguin Random House. Financial Times

– Down to the wire. Judy Shelton’s controversial nomination to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors failed to advance yesterday as two Republican Senators missed the vote because of COVID-19 quarantines. Her confirmation may be over since the Senate is not in session next week, and Sen.-elect Mark Kelly (D–Ariz.), who defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally, could take office as soon as Nov. 30. Once he’s seated, Republicans are unlikely to have the votes to advance her nomination. Wall Street Journal

– Retail storm. The latest edition of Fortune‘s podcast Leadership Next features Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass. The retail chief reflects on weathering the COVID storm in the industry. “We were making it up as we went,” she says. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Biden White House team continues to take shape with a few key appointments. Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillion will be deputy chief of staff; Dana Remus will be counsel to the President; Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will be chief of staff to First Lady-elect Jill Biden; Julie Chavez Rodríguez will be director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Julie Annie Tomasini will be director of Oval Office operations. The New York Times hired Freddie Mac’s Jacqueline M. Welch as EVP and chief human resources officer. Former Hilton CMO Kellyn Smith Kelly is now chief marketing and growth officer at AT&T. LS&Co. hired Elizabeth A. Morrison as chief diversity, inclusion, and belonging officer. SRDS named Heather Petaccio president.  

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– Unequal effects. The important story about how women and mothers are being hurt by the coronavirus crisis has a few new entries: this NYT piece about how closed schools turned to moms for their back-up plan and this story about the continued economic impact of a gendered recession. 

– Safety in sports. Concussions aren’t just an issue in football. In women’s sports, head injuries are a growing—and hidden—concern as well. Women’s lacrosse is the biggest offender; the sport doesn’t require headgear for its players, while men’s lacrosse does. MEL Magazine

– BFFs? A childhood friend of Ivanka Trump’s writes about her longstanding relationship with the First Daughter—including some unflattering details. But why now? “I think it’s past time that one of the many critics from Ivanka’s childhood comes forward—if only to ensure that she really will never recover from the decision to tie her fate to her father’s,” writes Lysandra Ohrstrom. Vanity Fair

ON MY RADAR

Kim Ng has been ready for years New York Times

The U.S. is too far behind the rest of the world when it comes to women in government Fortune

Women and leadership: Looking beyond the global health crisis New York Times

PARTING WORDS

“I hope people will give themselves permission to do whatever they want this year.”

-Ina Garten on Thanksgiving