The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service will present nine Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) on October 3 to public servants whose achievements have improved the lives of countless Americans and others around the world.
The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, will be presented to a National Institutes of Health team of doctors led by Drs. Julie Segre and Tara Palmore for revolutionizing the way hospital-acquired infections can be identified and halted through genetic sequencing of the bacteria. An estimated 100,000 U.S. patients die annually from hospital-acquired infections.
A new award, the Honorary Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, will be presented to Antonio J. Mendez, a former member of the CIA who ran a dangerous clandestine mission that secured the return of six American diplomats in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis. Mendez’s work, immortalized in the Academy Award winning movie “Argo,” is representative of and pays tribute to thousands of intelligence officers who have helped protect our national security, but whose exploits remain behind the cloak of secrecy.
Additional Service to America Medals will go to federal workers whose achievements range from eradicating polio in India to landing an exploratory vehicle on Mars to saving the Air Force more than $1 billion in 2012 by reducing energy consumption.
The recipients of the twelfth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals are:
- Orice Williams Brown, Career Achievement Medal
Managing Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
Government Accountability Office
For two decades, Brown served as a trusted expert for members of Congress on financial regulatory matters, carefully examining and offering recommendations in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis that helped improve the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief program, the Wall Street regulatory reform law and initiatives to prevent housing foreclosures.
- Daniel Madrzykowski, Citizen Services Medal
Fire Protection Engineer, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Madrzykowski conducted sophisticated research that led to innovative ways to fight fires, ranging from improved ventilation and fire-suppression tactics to the protective equipment worn by firefighters. His initiatives have been widely adopted across the nation, saving lives and protecting property.
- John MacKinnon and the Operation Holitna Team, Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal
Group Supervisor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations
MacKinnon and his team combined old-fashioned police work with creative new forensic investigatory techniques to rescue more than 167 child pornography victims and arrest 54 predators who preyed on them.
- David Lavery and the Mars Science Laboratory Team, Science and Environment Medal
Program Executive for Solar System Exploration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lavery shepherded the development and launch of NASA’s Curiosity rover, the robotic vehicle that is exploring the geology and climate of Mars and helping assess the potential for a future human mission to the Red Planet.
- Hamid Jafari, National Security and International Affairs Medal
Medical Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jafari led a global initiative to successfully eradicate polio in India, overseeing the delivery of 1 billion doses of vaccine to 172 million young children each year between 2008 and 2011 to stem the crippling and potentially fatal disease.
- Julie Segre, Tara Palmore and Team, Federal Employees of the Year
Senior Investigator (Segre) and Deputy Hospital Epidemiologist (Palmore), National Institutes of Health
Segre and Palmore stopped the spread of a deadly hospital-acquired infection through the first-ever use of genome sequencing to identify the source and trace the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a groundbreaking model for the health care industry.
- Kevin T. Geiss, Management Excellence Medal
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Department of the Air Force
Championed the safe use of alternative fuels to ensure energy independence for combat and support missions around the globe and reduced U.S. Air Force fuel and energy consumption, saving more than $1 billion in 2012 alone.
- Andrew Rabens, Call to Service Medal
Special Advisor for Youth Engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs, Department of State
Rabens has helped build strong relationships with aspiring young leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, organizing a conference that brought together young people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the Palestinian Territories to share ideas and learn about American democracy.
- Antonio J. Mendez, Honorary Service to America Medal
Central Intelligence Agency (Ret.)
Mendez is the real-life hero who orchestrated an elaborate clandestine operation immortalized in the movie “Argo,” to free six American diplomats trapped in Iran in 1980. This incredible achievement was part of a long CIA career in which he helped change the identity and appearance of thousands of U.S. spies during the Cold War by creating disguises, fabricating documents and convincing cover stories.
The Service to America Medal recipients were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that includes 15 leaders in government, academia, the private sector, media and philanthropy. More than 300 nominations were submitted for consideration this year.