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Federal Workers Named Contenders for “Oscars” of Government Award—the Esteemed Service to America Medals

May 3, 2015

WASHINGTON – The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today announced the 30 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists—exceptional federal employees who are curing diseases, protecting the environment, improving food safety, strengthening the national defense and providing assistance to the less fortunate overseas.

“The Service to America Medal finalists showcase the good that our public servants do each and every day behind-the-scenes on behalf of the American public,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service President and CEO. “They epitomize the true spirit and value of public service.”

The Service to America Medals have earned the reputation as the most prestigious awards to honor America’s civil servants. The 2015 finalists will be honored May 6 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as part of Public Service Recognition Week.

The finalists’ achievements include creating new treatments for cancer and sickle cell disease, instituting life-saving fire safety improvements for commercial airliners, developing a geographically targeted cell phone alert system to warn of dangers from tornadoes and flash floods, finding alternatives to the use of antibiotics in poultry and coordinating the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Other finalists conducted eye-opening research on the effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the marine environment, transformed toxicity testing of thousands of chemicals and provided the Navy with the first-ever laser weapon system to be approved for combat.

A list of the 30 Service to America Medal finalists is below.

The finalists are contenders for eight Service to America Medals, including Federal Employee of the Year. Medal categories include Science and Environment; Homeland Security and Law Enforcement; National Security and International Affairs; Citizen Services; and Management Excellence. Nearly 500 nominations were submitted for medal consideration this year.

Medal recipients will be announced October 7 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

The Service to America Medal recipients will be chosen by a committee that includes Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Grocery Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pamela Bailey, former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, National Treasury Employees Union Nation President Colleen M. Kelley, U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and additional leaders from government, academia, the private sector and philanthropic community.

Renamed the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals in 2010 to commemorate the organization’s founder, the program has honored more than 400 outstanding federal employees since its inception in 2002. More information about the program and the 2015 finalists’ achievements is available at

National sponsors for the 2015 Service to America Medals are Chevron and ConantLeadership. Additional sponsors include The Boston Consulting Group, Citi, Deloitte, ForeSee, McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley.

Career Achievement Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for significant accomplishments throughout a lifetime of achievement in public service.

Robert J. Kavlock

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, Office of Research and Development

Environmental Protection Agency

Washington, D.C.

Transformed how the EPA tests the toxicity of industrial and household chemicals, dramatically increasing the number that are assessed for potential health risks, while reducing the cost, time and need for animal studies

Hyun Soon Lillehoj

Senior Research Molecular Biologist

Agricultural Research Service

Beltsville, Maryland

Led influential research to decrease the use of antibiotics in commercial poultry, ensure the safety of this popular food and make the U.S. poultry industry more competitive overseas

Charles E. Milam

Principal Director, Military Community and Family Policy

Department of Defense

Washington, D.C.

Improved the lives of millions of service members and their families by instituting programs that help deployed soldiers stay in touch with loved ones, and increase health and wellness on military bases

Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg

Chief, Surgery Branch

National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute

Bethesda, Maryland

Developed life-saving treatments for millions of cancer patients, pioneering the use of the body’s immune system and genetically engineered anti-tumor cells to fight the disease

Call to Service Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee whose professional achievements reflect the important contributions that a new generation brings to public service.

Gretchen K. Campbell


National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Advanced the emerging field of physics known as atomtronics, paving the way for a new generation of technologies much like electronics has transformed our society today

Stephanie L. Hogan

Attorney-Advisor, Acting Team Leader for Interstate Transport of Air Pollution

Environmental Protection Agency

Washington, D.C.

Protected citizens from dangerous power plant emissions that blow across state lines by leading the EPA’s legal defense of its interstate air pollution rule

Bridget Lynn Roddy

Virtual Student Foreign Service Program Manager

Department of State

Washington, D.C.

Engaged a growing number of college students who contribute new skills, ideas and energy to assist diplomatic and international development programs around the world while working remotely from any location

Adam R. Schildge

Senior Program Analyst

Federal Transit Administration

Washington, D.C.

Developed and implemented a multi-billion dollar grant program after Hurricane Sandy to make public transportation systems more resilient against future natural disasters

Citizen Services Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to citizen services (including economic development, education, health care, housing, labor and transportation).

Lucile Jones

Science Advisor for Risk Reduction

U.S. Geological Survey

Pasadena, California

Spurred communities and states to prepare for catastrophic earthquakes by applying her groundbreaking research and taking preventive measures to protect citizens and critical infrastructure

Constantine P. Sarkos

Manager, Fire Safety Branch

Federal Aviation Administration

Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Protected commercial air travelers by leading major fire safety improvements that have increased passenger survivability during blazes occurring in-flight and after crash landings

Kevin G. Stricklin and the MSHA Mine Emergency Team

Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health

Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, Virginia

Improved coal mine safety and reduced deadly accidents to the lowest number in history, and led dangerous rescue operations to save trapped miners

John P. Wagner

Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Washington, D.C.

Reduced wait times for American citizens and a growing number of foreign travelers arriving at U.S. airports by expediting the clearance process while ensuring a high level of security

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to homeland security and law enforcement (including border and transportation security, civil rights, counterterrorism, emergency response, fraud prevention, and intelligence).

Robert Bunge, Michael Gerber and the Wireless Emergency Alerts Team

Software Branch Chief, Telecommunications Operations Center (Bunge), Meteorologist (Gerber) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service

Silver Spring, Maryland

Saved countless lives by developing a fast and geographically targeted cell phone alert system for weather emergencies such as tornadoes and flash floods

Anna M. Dozier

Senior Investigator

Employee Benefits Security Administration

Kansas City, Missouri

Protected and recovered millions of dollars in assets for American workers and their families by skillfully investigating misconduct by fiduciaries of private retirement, health and welfare plans

John B. Price

Program Manager

Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate

Washington, D.C.

Created a device to find living disaster victims buried beneath the wreckage of toppled buildings by adapting radar-based space technology in partnership with NASA scientists

Ron Ross


National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Instituted a state-of-the-art risk assessment system that has protected federal computer networks from cyberattacks and helped secure information critical to our national and economic security

Management Excellence Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

Kevin L. Hannes and the FEMA Operation Precious Cargo Team

Federal Coordinating Officer

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Denton, Texas

Coordinated emergency assistance when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America crossed the Southwest border, providing them food, shelter and medical care, and helping unite the children with family members

Edward C. Hugler

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations

Department of Labor

Washington, D.C.

As the Labor Department’s “Mr. Fix It,” solved numerous critical management challenges, including saving the agency’s financial management system after its service provider went bankrupt

Susan S. Kelly and the DOD Transition to Veterans Program Office

Director, Transition to Veterans Program Office

Department of Defense

Rosslyn, Virginia

Transformed and enhanced how the federal government annually prepares more than 200,000 service members for their transition to civilian life

Edward J. Ramotowski and the Consular Affairs Team

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services

Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

Washington, D.C.

Increased the number of foreign visitors to the U.S., boosted economic activity and created jobs by improving visa processing capacity and reducing interview wait times at embassies worldwide

Steven W. Zander

Director, AF Community Partnership Program

Department of the Air Force

Washington, D.C.

Developed innovative partnerships between Air Force bases and neighboring cities to save money on essential community services, from recreation activities to snow removal

National Security and International Affairs Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to national security and international affairs (including defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade).

Mia Beers and the U.S. Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team

Director, Humanitarian Policy and Global Engagement Division

U.S. Agency for International Development

Washington, D.C.

Led a team of U.S. responders who risked their own health to coordinate personnel from five federal agencies and helped turn the tide on the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa

Natasha M. de Marcken

Director, Office of Education

U.S. Agency for International Development

Washington, D.C.

Spearheaded a new strategy to improve the quality of education in developing nations, shifting the focus from simply getting children into schools to teaching them to read

Timothy A. Blades, Paul S. Gilmour and Team

Director of Operations, Directorate of Program Integration (Blades);

Deputy Director, Office of Ship Operations (Gilmour)

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (Blades); U.S. Maritime Administration (Gilmour)

Aberdeen, Maryland (Blades); Washington, D.C. (Gilmour)

Led an interagency team to destroy Syria’s lethal chemical weapons at sea, a first in the history of chemical demilitarization

Peter A. Morrison and the U.S. Navy Solid State Laser Team

Program Officer, Office of Naval Research

Department of the Navy

Arlington, Virginia

Provided the U.S. Navy with a new defense system by designing, building and testing the first-ever laser weapon to be approved for combat operations aboard a Navy ship

Rob Thayer and the Syria Emergency Food Assistance Team

Team Leader, Asia and Near East

U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Food for Peace

Washington, D.C.

Delivered life-saving food assistance to millions of people within war-torn Syria and to refugees who fled to neighboring countries

Science and Environment Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to science and environment (including biomedicine, economics, energy, information technology, meteorology, resource conservation and space).

Richard Alan Feely

NOAA Senior Fellow

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Seattle, Washington

Conducted eye-opening research on ocean acidification caused by global carbon dioxide emissions, which poses a serious risk to the health of sea life and the marine environment, and to people who rely on the oceans for food

Jacob E. Moss

Senior Advisor

Environmental Protection Agency

Washington, D.C.

Built an alliance of federal and international agencies, countries and corporations to bring more efficient cook stoves and cleaner burning fuels to homes in developing nations, protecting the environment and the health of millions of people worldwide

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers

Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National Institutes of Health

Bethesda, Maryland

Developed the first effective drug treatment for sickle cell disease to lessen pain and suffering, and oversaw a stem cell transplant clinical trial that reversed the debilitating illness in a majority of patients and could soon lead to a cure for this devastating illness

Jean C. Zenklusen, Carolyn Hutter and The Cancer Genome Atlas Team

Director, The Cancer Genome Atlas Program Office, National Cancer Institute (Zenklusen); Team Leader, National Human Genome Research Institute (Hutter)
National Institutes of Health

Bethesda, Maryland

Mapped thousands of gene sequences for more than thirty types of cancer, advancing precision medicine in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these deadly diseases