President Biden, dozens of celebrities honor Sammies winners at virtual celebration
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President Biden, dozens of celebrities honor Sammies winners at virtual celebration

November 3, 2021 | Updated on May 17, 2022

On Nov. 1, the annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals® program, or “Sammies,” went virtual for the second year through a star-studded program honoring exceptional federal employees whose work is improving the health, safety and prosperity of our country. Visit the Partnership’s YouTube page to watch the full event and celebrate the 2021 Sammies winners.

President Biden recorded a special message

Hosted by actor and comedian Aparna Nancherla, the virtual Sammies celebration featured President Joe Biden thanking public servants for their work and congratulating the 2021 Sammies winners.

“These awards aren’t just the Oscars of public service,” Biden said. “They’re a reminder that public service is a noble and impactful profession.”

Dozens of celebrities honored the winners

During the event, the 2021 Sammies winners were honored by celebrity guests Rose Byrne, Adam Conover, Melissa Fumero, Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Audra McDonald, Oscar Nuñez, Sierra Teller Ornelas, Jana Schmieding and Reggie Watts.

Samantha Bee, Mark Cuban, Meghan Duggan, Kal Penn, Andrew Rannells, Amy Schumer and more than a dozen other actors, celebrities, journalists and athletes joined for a special tribute to Federal Employee of the Year winners Kizzmekia Corbett and Dr. Barney Graham, whose groundbreaking research led to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals winners

Laurene Powell Jobs, president and founder of Emerson Collective, also received the Spirit of Service award for her work as a leader committed to systemic social change.

Sammies winners honored at the Kennedy Center

Ahead of the virtual celebration, the Sammies winners were also recognized during an event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 28. Presenters, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, helped honor the winners. Read more in our recap of the in-person event.

To learn more about these winners and all the Sammies honorees, visit and watch the full virtual celebration below.

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