2017 Sammies Finalists Announced

The 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists have been announced and will be honored as part of Public Service Recognition Week.

The Partnership for Public Service has announced the 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists.

The Service to America Medals are the premier awards dedicated to honoring America’s best in government. The finalists will be honored May 9 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as part of Public Service Recognition Week.

“If we are to get the best from our government, we must follow the example of top private-sector organizations by identifying and celebrating employee achievements,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “The federal innovators recognized for this years’ Service to America Medals represent the passion and hard work demonstrated every day by government workers throughout the country.”

The finalists are contenders for seven Service to America Medals, including Federal Employee of the Year.

New this year is the Promising Innovations category that will recognize a federal employee or team for leading a promising discovery, breakthrough technology or innovative approach to address a significant challenge facing our country or create new opportunities for the American people.

Other medal categories include Science and Environment; Homeland Security and Law Enforcement; National Security and International Affairs; and Management Excellence. All 26 finalists will also be eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. More than 430 nominations were submitted for consideration this year.

Medal recipients will be announced September 27 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

You can follow news about the 2017 Sammies on Twitter with the #sammies2017 hashtag.

The list of the 26 finalists and their achievements is included below.

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.

Jitender P. Dubey

Agricultural Research Service
Beltsville, Maryland
For more than three decades, has led life-saving research on parasitic diseases that devastate livestock and sicken millions of people around the world

Dr. Tedd V. Ellerbrock

Chief, HIV Care and Treatment Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia
Played a vital role in building, expanding and improving the U.S.-led program that provides medicine and assistance to 11 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS

Joseph J. Seebode

Deputy District Engineer and Chief of Programs and Project Management
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
New York, New York
Oversaw the $2.1 billion deepening of navigation channels for the Port of New York and New Jersey, as well as restoration and recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy and the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Hanwant B. Singh

Senior Scientist
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California
Pioneered research for more than 30 years that identified harmful pollutants in the atmosphere, how long they last, how far they travel and their impact on the climate and human health

Homeland Security And Law Enforcement Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as border and transportation security, civil rights, counterterrorism, emergency response, fraud prevention and intelligence.

Phillip A. Brooks, Byron Bunker and Joshua H. Van Eaton

Director, Air Enforcement Division (Brooks); Division Director, Compliance Division (Bunker); Trial Attorney (Van Eaton)
Environmental Protection Agency (Brooks and Bunker); Department of Justice (Van Eaton) Washington, D.C. (Brooks and Van Eaton); Ann Arbor, Michigan (Bunker)

Halted a scheme by Volkswagen to evade emission standards, and helped secure a record $17.4 billion legal settlement to compensate car owners and fund projects that will reduce harmful pollution across the country

Timothy P. Camus and the IRS Impersonation Scam Team

Deputy Inspector General for Investigations
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
Washington, D.C.
Led a multiagency investigation and public awareness campaign to stop a massive fraud that conned thousands of Americans into paying millions of dollars in bogus tax bills

Bryan Drake, Catherine Kuo Dick, Abhijit Dixit and Kevin Nalu

Special Agents (Drake, Dixit and Nalu); Trial Attorney (Dick)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (Drake); Department of Justice (Dick); Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (Dixit); Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (Nalu) Detroit, Michigan (Drake, Dixit and Nalu); Washington, D.C. (Dick)
Investigated and prosecuted a doctor who is now serving a 45-year prison sentence for giving false diagnoses and unnecessary cancer treatments to hundreds of patients in order to steal millions from Medicare

Nat Wood and the IdentityTheft.gov Development Team

Associate Director for Consumer and Business Education
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C.
Created an easy-to-use, online resource to help victims of identity theft quickly report the crime, stop additional fraudulent activity and begin the recovery process

Management Excellence Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

Elizabeth Angerman and Team

Executive Director, Unified Shared Services Management
General Services Administration
Washington, D.C.
Created standards and methods for federal agencies to consolidate common administrative functions more easily, allowing government leaders to focus more of their time and resources on mission-related responsibilities

Courtney Lias, Stayce Beck and the FDA Artificial Pancreas Team

Director, Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices (Lias); Chief, Diabetes Diagnostic Devices Branch (Beck)
Food and Drug Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Paved the way for the first artificial pancreas device to receive FDA approval faster than expected, helping transform the lives of Americans with Type 1 diabetes

John Pilotte and Heather Grimsley

Director, Performance-based Payment Policy Group (Pilotte); Director, Division of Shared Savings Program (Grimsley) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Baltimore, Maryland

Improved patient care and saved $1.3 billion through a new health care delivery system that compensates doctors and hospitals for the quality of medical outcomes rather than the quantity of patient services

Brenda B. Smith and the Single Window Team

Executive Assistant Commissioner for Trade
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Washington, D.C.
Led the development and implementation of a single, electronic portal for exporters and importers to submit information on shipments that cross U.S. borders, saving government and businesses time and money

Thomas R. Davis and the Rental Assistance Demonstration Team

Director, Office of Recapitalization
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, D.C.
Generated $3.9 billion in private investments that have been used to rebuild or renovate public housing to make it safe and affordable for tens of thousands of low-income individuals and families across the U.S.

National Security And International Affairs Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade.

Alex Mahoney and the Middle East Crisis Humanitarian Response Team

Response Manager
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C.
Led U.S. humanitarian relief efforts in war-torn Syria and parts of Iraq, delivering food, medicine, safe drinking water and other assistance to millions of people in desperate need of help

Mark Skoog

Autonomous Systems Principal Investigator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Armstrong Flight Research Center
Edwards, California
Spearheaded the development of a revolutionary flight control system the Air Force uses to prevent ground collisions when pilots become disoriented or lose consciousness, saving lives and the loss of fighter jets

Jon R. Smibert

Resident Legal Advisor
Department of Justice, Criminal Division
Tirana, Albania
Helped Albania revise its constitution and reform its criminal justice system to rid the country of decades of corruption and organized crime, and set a path for this strategic U.S. ally to gain membership in the European Union

Vincent Tang and the SIGMA Team

Program Manager
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Arlington, Virginia
Developed an innovative, mobile and low-cost system to detect the smallest traces of radiological and nuclear materials, offering cities worldwide a new tool to identify and stop terror threats

Promising Innovations Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for leading a promising discovery, breakthrough technology or innovative approach to address a significant challenge facing our country or create new opportunities for the American people.

Flora M. Jordan

Engineer, Armor and Load Bearing Team
Marine Corps Systems Command
Quantico, Virginia
Designed new, lighter body armor that is just as protective as existing equipment and can be adjusted for smaller physiques, giving warfighters greater mobility and reducing long-term health effects

Sarah Jovan and Geoffrey H. Donovan

Research Ecologist (Jovan); Research Forester (Donovan)
U.S. Forest Service
Portland, Oregon
Led the first-ever study using tree moss to detect air pollution in a major city, including cancer-causing heavy metals, prompting enforcement actions and offering a new, cost-effective way to identify threats to public health

Lisa Mazzuca

Search and Rescue Mission Manager
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland
Developed a new generation of aircraft distress beacons that are more likely to survive a plane crash and aid rescuers in finding crash victims faster

Paul R. Ohodnicki, Jr.

Materials Scientist
Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Created advanced sensor technology to monitor the nation’s energy generation, transmission and distribution systems, improving their reliability, efficiency and safety

Pamela L. Sheehan

Research Environmental Engineer
U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center
Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey
Discovered a safe, environmentally friendly way to recycle aging, demilitarized munitions by converting a nitrogen-rich propellant into biofuel, which will reduce air pollution and save millions of dollars in disposal costs

Science And Environment Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment in fields such as biomedicine, economics, energy, information technology, meteorology, resource conservation and space.

Rory A. Cooper

Director, Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Department of Veterans Affairs
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Designed innovative wheelchairs and other assistive technology equipment that has greatly improved the mobility and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans and other Americans

Dr. David J. Lipman and Team

Director, National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Institutes of Health
Rockville, Maryland
Built and heads the world’s largest and most influential repository of genetic sequence data used by biomedical researchers around the world, including those studying infectious, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases

Justin C. Sanchez

Director, Biological Technologies Office
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Arlington, Virginia
Oversaw research to develop life-like prosthetic arms with near-natural dexterity that enables amputees to pick up small or fragile objects, and is managing efforts to restore the ability for brain-injured soldiers to form new memories

Surabhi Shah and the Urban Waters Team

Director, Urban Waters Program
Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C.
Created public-private partnerships to clean up and revitalize urban waterways and surrounding lands, spurring economic development and reversing decades of neglect

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. 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.