Public Servants Honored at Sammies Awards Gala

Nine Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medals were given out to outstanding public servants at the annual ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 15.

The Partnership for Public Service presented nine Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medals (Sammies) to outstanding public servants who are making contributions to health, safety, and well-being of Americans in its tenth anniversary awards ceremony. The ceremony was held on September 15 in Washington, D.C.

The awards given were as follows:

Paul Hsieh, Federal Employee of the Year
Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Hsieh received the award for providing critical information to help end the worst oil spill in the nation’s history, the 2010 rupture of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alfonso Batres, Career Achievement Medal
Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, Veterans Health Administration
Batres, a Vietnam War veteran, has devoted his career to building a national network of 300 small, community-based centers where veterans traumatized by combat obtain counseling, job assistance, medical referrals and other services, often from veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

William A. Gahl, Science & Environment Medal
Director, Undiagnosed Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health
Gahl is America’s leading medical sleuth, a physician dedicated to finding answers for suffering patients with mysterious diseases that have long eluded diagnosis. As the founding director of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, Gahl brings together a unique combination of elite medical specialists, researchers and federal resources to solve baffling illnesses. Results include successful diagnosis and treatments of diseases so rare that they don’t even have names.

C. Norman Coleman, Homeland Security Medal
Associate Director, Radiation Research Program, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
Coleman, a renowned radiation oncologist, developed a comprehensive roadmap to help the U.S. government and emergency responders prepare for a dreadful scenario – a terrorist attack involving radiological or nuclear materials. Because of his expertise, Coleman was called to advise on the Japanese response to radiation from this year’s earthquake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plants.

Diane Braunstein, Citizen Services Medal
Associate Commissioner, Office of International Programs, Social Security Administration
Braunstein created a compassionate allowance program for terminally and seriously ill Americans to receive approval for Social Security disability benefits in days or weeks instead of months or years.

Charles Heurich and the NamUs Team, Justice and Law Enforcement Medal
Program Manager, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
Heurich and his team created and launched an innovative, missing and unidentified persons database that allows law enforcement, families and others to share information and potentially solve cases nationwide.

Paul Hsieh, Federal Employee of the Year
Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hsieh provided critical scientific information to convince federal officials that the containment cap on a ruptured deep water oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was working, thereby helping end the environmental disaster.

James Michael Duncan and team, National Security and International Affairs Medal
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Johnson Space Center, NASA
Duncan and his team provided medical, nutritional, psychological, survival and engineering expertise learned from space exploration to help 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days.

W. Todd Grams, Management Excellence Medal
Executive in Charge, Office of Management and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs
Grams led significant reforms that integrate and streamline agency operations, reducing costs and delivering better service to America’s veterans.

Ann S. Martin, Call to Service Medal
Senior Intelligence Research Specialist, Office of Trend and Issue Analysis Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Twenty-nine year old Martin worked with Mexican officials to study cross-border currency flows and help disrupt the laundering of billions of dollars derived from illicit U.S. drug sales.

Nominations for 2012 are being accepted at

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.