We the Partnership

Meet the 2021 Service to America Medal finalists

By Lia Collen
May 3, 2021 | Updated on May 5, 2021

This week, the Partnership announced the 29 finalists for the 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, which highlight exceptional federal employees who go above and beyond to make a lasting difference for our country and people across the globe. These federal workers and their accomplishments deserve our recognition, especially given the myriad challenges we faced this past year.

To recognize how federal employees helped people in need during the pandemic, this year’s Sammies features a new COVID-19 response category. From increasing the participation of underserved communities in coronavirus vaccine trials to distributing economic relief payments to tens of millions of people, the finalists in this category led the charge in combating one of the most serious health crises in U.S. history, one that threatened both our nation and the world.

In honor of Public Service Recognition Week, President Biden thanked the 2021 Sammies finalists for their outstanding contributions to our country during a special virtual event with Axios and Tony-nominated actress Adrienne Warren. Watch President Biden’s message below.

In addition to the COVID-19 response category, the Partnership will recognize 2021 Service to America Medal finalists in five other areas:

  • Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement – recognizing a federal employee for leading significant and sustained accomplishments throughout a federal career of 20 or more years.
  • Emerging Leaders – recognizing a federal employee under the age of 35 who made an important contribution to the public good.
  • Management Excellence – recognizing a federal employee or team for delivering results through superior leadership and exceptional management skills.
  • Safety, Security and International Affairs – recognizing a federal employee or team in fields such as counterterrorism, civil rights, defense and military affairs, cybersecurity and more.
  • Science and Environment – recognizing a federal employee or team for a contribution in fields such as medicine, economics, energy, information technology, space, meteorology and resource conservation.

More details about the 2021 Service to America Medal finalists and their accomplishments can be found in our honoree profiles.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sammies, known as the “Oscars of government service.” Since the program began, the Partnership has honored more than 600 individuals and teams who demonstrate federal leadership and innovation, showcasing vivid examples of our government’s incredible accomplishments for the general public.

Service to America Medal winners are chosen by a selection committee of national leaders in government, business, entertainment, media and the nonprofit community. We recognized last year’s winners in our first virtual Sammies program, which featured special guests such as Bono, Kristen Bell, Katie Couric, Stephen Colbert, Matthew McConaughey and Aisha Tyler. View that star-studded event and learn more about the 2020 winners on our blog.

This year’s Sammies winners will be announced in the fall, but you can vote now to select the recipient of the 2021 Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. Read the stories and keep voting for your favorite finalist until polls close on July 2.


Lia Collen