We the Partnership

Recognizing the people who do the work: Michael Bloomberg and Penny Pritzker praise public servants at 18th annual Service to America Medals gala

October 24, 2019 | Updated on October 21, 2020

At the 18th annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals gala on October 16 honoring a group of distinguished civil servants, Michael Bloomberg told the audience of more than 600 people that building a strong team and investing in his staff was critical to his success as the mayor of New York City.

“The most important thing I could do in the first 100 days was put together the people that were going to work in my administration,” Bloomberg said. “Most of that team stayed with me for all 12 years I was in office, and they were the ones that did the work. What I did was [bring] them in and care [for them].”

The Partnership for Public Service, which hosts the annual Service to America Medals event, honored Bloomberg with its Spirit of Service award for his bold leadership in government, business and philanthropy. Besides serving as New York City mayor, Bloomberg founded Bloomberg LP, a global information technology company, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has invested in a wide variety of causes that include findings ways to help governments work better.

During a fireside chat with former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Bloomberg stressed the importance of surrounding himself with smart people, and emphasized the important role his employees have played in helping him achieve success. Bloomberg also discussed the significance of giving his employees authority and respect as well as recognizing them for their good work.

Pritzker praised Bloomberg for his years of public service and his philanthropic work, and paid tribute to the winners of the 2019 Service to America Medals.

“We are profoundly grateful to the men and women who we’ve honored here tonight and all of those who are working in our federal government,” Pritzker said.

The Partnership for Public Service is dedicated to highlighting the unsung heroes of our federal government whose accomplishments too often go unrecognized. At the gala, six federal employees at agencies ranging from NASA to the Department of Veterans Affairs received awards for their significant achievements that have helped improve the lives of Americans and people all over the world.

Watch some of the highlights from the conversation between Bloomberg and Pritzker.