7 influential people who are changing-and saving-lives

I think we all have the power to be influential, for good or bad. Notice who’s following you and consider what they’re learning -and imitating-from your actions and attitudes.

Every year TIME magazine publishes an issue devoted to the world’s 100 most influential people. When I read through the list, I find many familiar names and many that I have never heard of.

TIME calls them “a community of leaders whose energy and commitment we hope inspires others to spring into action as well.

Each nominee is described by someone who knows them well and is often also worthy of being called influential, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci .

Entertainment and sports

The list includes people you might call celebrities-singers, actors, musicians, entertainers, athletes- who I suppose are often influential although I don’t understand why.

As much as I love the arts and sports, I find it odd that they would be the most influential. Certainly their work is, in many cases. Some of these were Scarlett Johansson, Lil Nas X, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kate Winslet, Billie Eilish, and Tom Brady. Simone Biles made the list, I think rightfully so.

Government and politics

Many government officials made the list as you would suppose, after all they run the world, don’t they? So here we have Joe Manchin, Liz Cheney, Xi Jinping, and of course the President and Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Others in the political realm include Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump. I’ll also include the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aka Harry and Meghan, although I don’t understand their current position in the British Monarchy.

Science and Technology

So from among their choices my favorites and the subject of this post are those whose work involves science, public health, medical research, and especially the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve picked 7, so that is 7% of the total.

Of course people in other disciplines addressed the crisis too, so if you include them it would actually be more than 7%, possibly 10-50%. Check out the list in the September 27, 2021 issue of TIME and see what you think.

They are disrupters, fixers, doers, iconoclasts, problem solvers -people who in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray.

Edward Felsenthal, Editor-in-chief

Adi Utarini-public health researcher

The World Health Organization calls Dengue fever, caused by a mosquito-borne virus that infects almost 400 million people world wide, one of the greatest threats to world health,

Adi Utarini developed a technique to render these mosquitoes harmless by inoculating them with Wolbachia, a harmless bacteria that blocks mosquitoes from transmitting dengue with a bite.

“Utarini has survived dengue twice. However, dengue may not survive her”

Melinda French Gates
courtesy of CDC.GOV

Barney Graham-physician-scientist

Barney Graham has researched and designed vaccines for decades, by understanding how viruses and human cells interact. His work on viral proteins led to the development of many of the COVID-19 vaccines used now.

“A thought leader in vaccine design and pandemic preparedness, Dr. Graham has helped save millions of lives and altered the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

electron microscope image of a 2019-nCoV isolate
Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots. credit Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin, public domain

Lidia Morawska-physicist

Lidia Morawska recognized the importance of aerosol transmission in the spread of the COVID virus. She gathered the data and convinced scientists and public health authorities to change how we measure and lessen our risk of contracting the virus.

“Her advocacy helped change practices from schools to workplaces, making these environments safer for people around the world.”

Scott Gottlieb
Should I increase ventilation in a room to reduce spread of COVID-19?
reduce a

John Nkengasong -virologist

As founding director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong has helped save lives during the pandemic. His work led to improved testing, better provision of COVID-19 tools, especially vaccines, and a more transparent approach to sharing data by all African countries.

Nkengasong is a modern-day African hero. Expect to see him charting the course both in Africa and globally.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein

3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—in front of a 3D print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle. The spike protein (foreground) enables the virus to enter and infect human cells. On the virus model, the virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells.
Credit: NIH

Katalin Kariko-biochemist

Katalin Kariko, a senior VP, at BioNTech, began studying RNA when no one else considered it promising. But her research led to the idea of using mRNA (messenger RNA) in vaccines, and their use in developing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This technology has potential application for other vaccines as well as treating autoimmune disorders.

“I admire her dogged pursuit of an idea she was passionate about, and her willingness to collaborate with others.She inspires us with her creativity, persistence, and commitment.”

Jennifer Doudna
How mRNA Vaccines Work?CDC

Rochelle Walensky-clinician-investigator

During her time at Harvard University, Rochelle Walensky made numerous important research contributions to controlling HIV infection. As director of the CDC she again confronts another major public health challenge , COVID-19, leading in its management and addressing health equity and other serious public health issues.

“Dr. Walensky’s calm courage and proven track record of respecting science are restoring the CDC’s prominence in leading us through this pandemic.”

Julie Geberding
CDC is committed to achieving health equity

Dolly Parton- living legend

Although I question why celebrities are on the list, for Dolly Parton I make an exception, because I don’t consider her a celebrity. I think of her as champion of the underdog, being somewhat of an underdog herself. From humble beginnings in rural Tennessee in a large, poor but loving family she used her talent and hard work to achieve a remarkable career in music, movies, and business.

Imagination Library with Dolly Parton

She established the Imagination Library to provide free books to millions of children. Last year she donated $1 million to help fund the develop the COVID-19 vaccine. And she publicly received a “shot in her arm” to encourage others to be vaccinated.

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? I never have. She’s my role model because of her steadfast morals and values.”

Miley Cyrus
update December 4, 2021

This year People magazine named Dolly Parton one of its People of the Year, calling her “the Queen of Country”, an American icon, one of the most prolific songwriters of our time.” She says,

I ask God every day to let Him shine through me. He’s given me that gift to be able to talk to them(her fans) , and I’m very careful with it. And people don’t really come to see me be me-they come to see me be them, the parts of me they can relate to.

People magazine, December 13, 2021

We all have an opportunity to help create a better world..we can choose to be among those who pick up the phone and run toward the struggle.
Edward Felsenthal

exploring the HEART of health

So what do you think about these choices or others on the list from TIME? Are there other people you would have included? I think we all have the power to be influential, for good or bad. Notice who’s following you and consider what they’re learning -and imitating-from your actions and attitudes.


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Dr Aletha

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Overcoming the dream killers

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Find out why.

Joseph and his dream-a story from the Bible

“Jacob’s son Joseph was now seventeen years old, and he loved Joseph more than any of his other children, because Joseph was born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob gave him a special gift—a brightly colored coat.

His brothers of course noticed their father’s partiality, and consequently hated Joseph; they couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

(Joseph had two dreams in which  he became so powerful that his brothers bowed down before him.)

“And they hated him both for the dream and for his cocky attitude.”

(One day Joseph’s father sent him to his brothers who were watching the flocks of sheep. He told Joseph to come back and tell him how they were getting along.)

“But when they saw him coming, recognizing him in the distance, they decided to kill him.

The dream killers

“Here comes that master-dreamer,” they exclaimed. “Come on, let’s kill him and toss him into a well and tell Father that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what will become of all his dreams!”

So when Joseph got there, they pulled off his brightly colored robe, and threw him into an empty well—there was no water in it. Then they sat down for supper.”

(But then they decided it wasn’t a good idea to kill him; after all, he was their brother. So they decided to sell him to some traders instead.)

And they took Joseph to Egypt Genesis 37:28
graphic compliments of A little Perspective

“So when the traders came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver, and they took him along to Egypt.

Then the brothers killed a goat and spattered its blood on Joseph’s coat, and took the coat to their father and asked him to identify it.

“We found this in the field,” they told him. “Is it Joseph’s coat or not?”

Their father recognized it at once.

“Yes,” he sobbed, “it is my son’s coat. A wild animal has eaten him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.”

Then Jacob tore his garments and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son in deepest mourning for many weeks. His family all tried to comfort him, but it was no use.”

Genesis 37 Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

(This post contains several affiliate links, links which help keep this blog running.)

Overcoming the dream killers-Watercress Words.com

Dolly Partons’s “coat of many colors”

Older translations of the Bible translate the “brightly colored coat” as “a coat of many colors”, or as songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber called it “the amazing technicolor dreamcoat”.

Country singer Dolly Parton had a “coat of many colors” as a child in rural Tennessee. Her mother made it out of rags; the family was poor and couldn’t afford to buy her a new coat.

When her mother gave it to her, she told Dolly the story of Joseph, and Dolly was proud to wear her coat too. But when she went to school, her friends weren’t so impressed and made fun of her. But she knew better; she knew that the love that was sewn into her coat was more important than the price.

The joke was definitely on them since she grew up to become successful, rich, and famous. Not only that, she is generous. She established

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

Imagination Library with Dolly Parton
display at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Branson Missouri

On the Imagination Library web site she writes

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

Dolly Parton

I know this is true, because it happened that way for me. My dream of becoming a doctor began and grew from books I borrowed from my local library and I believe every child should have that opportunity.

Like Joseph’s brothers and Dolly’s schoolmates, other people may mock and try to kill your dreams. Don’t let them. Out of our dreams come life changing experiences for us, and for those that we have a chance to help later on. And if someone- a parent, teacher, neighbor, coach-has encouraged your dream, thank them. They have given you a priceless gift.

Her experience inspired Dolly to write a song about her coat, a song she says is her favorite among the many songs she has written and recorded.

statue of a white horse with colorful design on his back
a “colt” of many colors at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner attraction in Branson Missouri

I invite you to listen to it here. I think you will understand why it is her favorite and why it reached number 4 on the country music charts in 1971.

If you want to know what happened to Joseph after he arrived in Egypt, you can read the rest of the story in Genesis, or watch

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


sharing a HEART for reading

Dr Aletha

And don’t let anyone kill your dreams.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Canadian Cast Recording)Andrew Lloyd Webber, Donny Osmond & “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” 1992 Canadian Cast
Coat of Many Colors-Dolly Parton

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