Our top four Sammies People’s Choice finalists
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Our top four Sammies People’s Choice finalists

June 24, 2019 | Updated on May 17, 2022
Elizabeth Irons

This week, the Partnership for Public Service announced the top four Sammies People’s Choice finalists. Our Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award gives you a chance to pick your favorite story from among the Sammies finalists.

Voting will officially close on July 8, and the winner will be announced on July 18.

As voting continues, here’s an overview of our top four finalists. These individuals have dedicated their careers to creating innovative and lasting change within their fields.

Robert Cabana and the Kennedy Space Center Senior Management Team  (NASA) transformed the Kennedy Space Center from a historic landmark destined to go by the wayside to the world’s preeminent site for government and commercial space exploration. By exhibiting exceptional leadership, and by creating partnerships with private sector organizations, Cabana and his team have completely revitalized American leadership in space.

Emily Joy Haas (CDC) is helping protect American miners nationwide. From 2016 to 2018, Haas conducted research on mine safety involving 2,700 mine workers at 39 different mines, identifying gaps between management and miners’ perception of safety conditions. Her findings have the potential to aid more than 58,000 workers at mining organizations.

Christina A. Neal and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Team (Department of the Interior) worked with local authorities and emergency managers to ensure that not one fatality resulted from the Kilauea’s 2018 volcanic eruption, which lasted for more than 100 days. Neal was successful in protecting Hawaii’s local community through her extraordinary leadership, which included conducting essential scientific fieldwork, providing frequent reports on the situation to government officials, and using the media to communicate directly with the public.

Ryan Shelby (USAID) worked with local Haitian manufacturers and leaders to oversee a number of reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Matthew, which devastated Haiti in 2016. These efforts involved building disaster-resistant structures with materials from local sources and training more than 2,000 community members. By collaborating with local communities, Shelby and his team have been able to rebuild nearly 5,000 homes and roofs in southern Haiti since July 2018.

Remember to cast your vote for this year’s Sammies People’s Choice winner at servicetoamericamedals.org. Be sure to share the finalists’ stories so your colleagues, friends and family members can vote as well.

Elizabeth Irons is a former intern on the Partnership’s Communications team.