PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCES 2019 SERVICE TO AMERICA MEDAL FINALISTS
May 5, 2019
“Oscars” of government service honor federal innovators from across government
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2019
CONTACT: Onamé Thompson
WASHINGTON – The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today announced the 2019 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) finalists – 26 federal employees and teams from more than 20 federal agencies and 15 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Haiti.
TheSammies have earned a reputation as the premier awards program recognizing America’s best in government. On Thursday, May 9, the finalists will be honored at a breakfast on Capitol Hill as part of Public Service Recognition Week. Among those scheduled to make remarks are Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.); Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie; and Office of Personnel Management Acting Director and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert.
“Following the longest government shutdown in history, it’s imperative that we celebrate and recognize the important and critical work of our nation’s civil servants,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “The 2019 Service to America Medalsshowcase our remarkable federal workforce who serve the public good and address many of the country’s greatest challenges.”
The 2019 finalists’ achievements include pioneering and perfecting a modeling program that predicts where people lost at sea will be found, cutting search and rescue times and saving thousands of lives; implementing facial recognition systems that simplify and fortify airport security; developing a way to quickly locate and assist chronic healthcare patients who are at risk of losing life-sustaining equipment due to widespread power outages; and uncovering and prosecuting the largest bribery and corruption scandal in the history of the U.S. Navy.
Other finalists include those who have revolutionized scientific research and our understanding of the long-term effects of concussions in veterans and athletes; transformed the historic Kennedy Space Center into a globally distinguished multiuser launch site for government and commercial space exploration; discovered six different genetic origins of kidney cancer and provided the foundation for the development of targeted therapies that have saved thousands of lives; and strengthened our nation’s defenses against nuclear and radioactive threats by developing performance standards and tests for detection systems that screen nearly 7 million cargo containers entering U.S. seaports each year.
A complete list of the 2019 Service to America Medal finalists is attached.
Each finalist is a contender for one of our seven Service to America Medals, including the newly renamed Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal, which honors Paul Volcker, a devout public servant who, over three decades, served two terms as Federal Reserve chairman, headed two non-partisan Commissions on the Public Service and spearheaded sweeping overhauls of the federal government. The naming of this award was made possible through the generous support of Ray and Barbara Dalio and The Volcker Alliance—a nonpartisan organization that advances effective management of government to achieve results that matter to citizens.
“We are thrilled that the Sammies Career Achievement Award has been renamed to honor the Volcker Alliance’s chairman and founder, Paul A. Volcker,” said Thomas W. Ross, president of the Volcker Alliance. “Mr. Volcker’s nearly thirty years of service in the federal government was defined by his belief that government should be responsive to its citizens and accountable for delivering on its promises. We hope that this award will elevate and acknowledge the significant contributions of other dedicated citizens who strive for excellence in public service.”
Other medal categories include Science and Environment; Safety and Law Enforcement; National Security and International Affairs; Management Excellence; and Federal Employee of the Year. All 26 finalists are eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. Beginning Friday, May 10, members of the public can vote online for the federal employee they believe has made the most significant contribution to the American people. The People’s Choice winner will be announced at a Partnership event on July 18.
Medal recipients will be announced and honored on October 16, 2019, during an awards gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.
In addition, the Partnership will present its second annual private-sector Spirit of Service Award to Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the 108th Mayor of New York City. Designed to shine a spotlight on individuals outside the federal workforce who have made significant contributions to public service, Mayor Bloomberg will be recognized for the positive impact he has made through his leadership in business, government and philanthropy, and for the countless lives he has improved through his national and international support of programs benefitting the arts, education, the environment, government innovation and public health.
The Service to America Medal recipients will be chosen by a prestigious selection committee that includes Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.); Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.); former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt; Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton; Chairman of the USAA Board Lester Lyles; Microsoft Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood; The Volcker Alliance President Thomas W. Ross; Partnership Co-founder Ronnie F. Heyman; FORTUNE CEO Alan Murray; Fox News Channel Anchor Martha MacCallum; Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia; Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin; Author Michael Lewis; and other leaders from government, academia, media, the private sector and philanthropic community.
The premier and national sponsors for the 2019 Service to America Medals include Mrs. Ronnie F. Heyman and Family, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chevron.
Since its inception in 2002, the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals program has honored more than 500 outstanding federal employees. More information about the program and the 2019 finalists is available at servicetoamericamedals.org.
During the past 18 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has been dedicated to making the federal government more effective for the American people. We work across administrations to help transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and innovation. Visit opswebdev.wpengine.com to learn more. Follow us on social @RPublicService and subscribe today to get the latest federal news, information on upcoming Partnership programs and events, and more.
2019 SAMMIES FINALISTS
PAUL A. VOLCKER CAREER ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL FINALISTS
This medal recognizes a federal employee for leading significant and sustained accomplishments throughout a federal career of 20 or more years.
Arthur A. Allen
U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Search and Rescue
New London, Connecticut
Pioneered and perfected a modeling program that predicts where people lost at sea will be found, cutting search and rescue times and saving thousands of lives during a 35-year career
William K. Boyes, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Conducted important research on the harm that commonly used chemicals have on eyesight and the central nervous system, leading to new standards to protect the public from overexposure to these toxic substances
Michael G. Kozak
Senior Bureau Official
Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
For nearly five decades, helped shape foreign policy to protect U.S. interests abroad and advance democracy and human rights around the world
Ann McKee, M.D.
Chief of Neuropathology
Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Boston Healthcare System
Revolutionized scientific research and our understanding of the long-term effects of concussions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in veterans and athletes
Venkatachalam “Ram” Ramaswamy, Ph.D.
Director, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Princeton, New Jersey
Developed a state-of-the-art modeling system to enhance understanding and prediction of global climate and provide earlier and more accurate forecasts of severe weather events, helping save lives and property
MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE MEDAL FINALISTS
This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.
Medical Center Director
Department of Veterans Affairs, Tomah VA Medical Center
Restored the quality and safety of a broken health care center for veterans that had become notorious for unsafe medical practices, excessive opioid use and a toxic work environment
Robert Cabana and the Kennedy Space Center Senior Management Team
Director, John F. Kennedy Space Center
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Transformed the historic Kennedy Space Center into a globally distinguished, multiuser launch site for government and commercial space exploration, helping preserve our country’s leadership in this important field
Deputy Administrator, Plant Protection and Quarantine
Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Created a highly effective plan that led the United States to become the first and only country to eradicate the pink bollworm, saving cotton growers tens of millions of dollars annually
Shannon Sartin and Team
Executive Director, Digital Service at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Digital Service
Led the development of digital tools to make it easier for Medicare patients to access their electronic health records and for doctors to receive payment for the quality, not the quantity, of the care they provide
Paul Shute, Christopher Aragao and David Enright
Chief of Operational Innovation (Shute); Supervisory Veterans Service Representative (Aragao); Management Analyst (Enright)
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, D.C. (Shute); Providence, Rhode Island (Aragao); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Enright)
Dramatically cut the time and manpower needed to make decisions on service-related mental health claims for veterans, helping tens of thousands of individuals each year receive their benefits faster
NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS MEDAL FINALISTS
This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as border security, counterterrorism, defense and military affairs, intelligence, nuclear nonproliferation, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade.
Kara L. De Castro
National Nuclear Security Administration
Led pivotal international programs to convert weapons-grade nuclear materials for civilian use and enhanced security cultures to guard against their mishandling and misuse
Leticia Pibida, Ph.D.
National Institute of Standards and Technology
our nation’s defenses against nuclear and radioactive threats by developing
performance standards and tests for detection systems that screen nearly 7
million cargo containers entering U.S. seaports each year
Ryan Shelby, Ph.D.
Diplomatic Attaché and Foreign Service Engineering Officer
U.S. Agency for International Development
Provided vital training and resources to help people in Haiti rebuild thousands of homes and roofs ripped apart by a Category 4 hurricane, making the structures safer and stronger to withstand future disasters
John P. Wagner
Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations
Implemented facial recognition systems that simplify and fortify airport security, helping travelers reach their destinations faster while stopping suspected terrorists and others attempting to enter and leave the U.S. using false documents
Program Officer, Noise Induced Hearing Loss Research Program
Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research
Identified and implemented solutions to combat noise-induced hearing loss, which affects hundreds of thousands of sailors and Marines, and costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year in treatments for veterans
SAFETY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT MEDAL FINALISTS
This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as civil rights, consumer protection, cybersecurity, transportation safety, worker safety, and emergency preparedness and response.
Emily Banuelos and the Taxiway Tango Tiger Team
Team Manager, Western Service Area
Federal Aviation Administration, Runway Safety Group
Des Moines, Washington
and implemented enhanced surveillance technology that warns when commercial
aircraft are lined up to land on a taxiway instead of the intended runway,
averting the potential for catastrophic accidents
Kristen P. Finne
Senior Program Analyst and Manager, HHS emPOWER Program
Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Developed a system for first responders to quickly locate and assist 4.3 million Medicare beneficiaries who rely on life-sustaining, electricity-dependent medical equipment and are at risk during prolonged power outages
Emily Joy Haas, Ph.D.
Senior Research Behavioral Scientist, Pittsburgh Mining Research Division
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
the health and safety of our nations’ mine workers by using behavioral science
to influence the adoption of new technologies and practices that reduce their
exposure to known hazards
Storm Surge Specialist and Team Lead, National Hurricane Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Created a new forecasting model and warning system that more accurately predicts the deadly storm surge caused by hurricanes, saving lives by alerting residents sooner of the approaching danger
James McWhirter, Mark W. Pletcher and the Navy Bribery Scandal Team
Assistant Special Agent in Charge (McWhirter); Assistant U.S. Attorney (Pletcher)
Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (McWhirter); Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California (Pletcher)
Mission Viejo, California (McWhirter); San Diego, California (Pletcher)
Uncovered and prosecuted the largest bribery and corruption scandal in the history of the U.S. Navy, resulting in dozens of federal criminal convictions and sanctions against numerous Navy officers
SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT MEDAL FINALISTS
This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as medicine, economics, energy, information technology, space, meteorology and resource conservation.
Othmane Benafan, Ph.D.
Materials Research Engineer
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Glenn Research Center
Advanced the science and use of a special alloy that returns to its original shape after being heated, leading to groundbreaking technologies that enable safer, more efficient aviation and space exploration
McMahan “Mac” Louis Gray
Physical Scientist, Separations Materials Team
Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory
Created a game-changing technology that removes carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and absorbs heavy metals, such as lead, from municipal water supplies
Daniel B. Jernigan, M.D.
Director, Influenza Division
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Led response efforts for dozens of disease crises, including Ebola, SARS and West Nile virus, while greatly improving our country’s ability to identify, prepare for and respond to inevitable flu pandemics
W. Marston Linehan, M.D.
Chief, Urologic Oncology Branch
National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
Discovered six different genetic origins of kidney cancer and provided the foundation for the development of targeted therapies that have saved thousands of lives
Christina A. Neal and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Team
Scientist in Charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
U.S. Geological Survey
Carefully monitored a large and sustained eruption of the Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii and provided vital updates to protect residents, tourists and property from ash, lava and toxic fumes