2017 Sammies Winners Announced

Who are the recipients of this year’s Sammies awards? The winners have been announced along with the official ceremony date.

The Partnership for Public Service announced it will present seven Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) to federal employees on Wednesday, September 27 for their outstanding service to the country.

The service will be held in Washington, DC at 6:30 PM and will also be streamed live on the Partnership for Public Service’s Facebook page.

Now in its 16th year, the Service to America Medals are the premier awards dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of federal employees.

The recipients of this year’s awards are:

The evening’s top honor, Federal Employees of the Year, will be presented to Phillip A. Brooks, Byron Bunker and Joshua H. Van Eaton, a team from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice. These civil servants led multiagency teams that halted a scheme by Volkswagen to rig more than a half million vehicles to circumvent U.S. auto emission standards. Their work led to a record $17.4 billion in legal settlements—including large sums of money that have been dedicated to reducing pollution and compensating car owners. Their painstaking effort also laid the foundation for subsequent investigations that resulted in indictments against Volkswagen executives and a total of $4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties and fines.

The Career Achievement Medal recipient is Dr. Tedd V. Ellerbrock of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ellerbrock 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 and AIDS. He has built international partnerships and oversaw evaluations to scale up the system to deliver life-saving medicine to patients in more than two dozen developing countries.

Rory A. Cooper of the Department of Veterans Affairs is the recipient of the Science and Environment Medal. Wheelchairs offer increased mobility for people with disabilities, but there are limits to where they can go and what they can do. Cooper designed innovative wheelchairs and other assistive technologies that have markedly improved the mobility and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of veterans and others with disabilities. He led innovations that include a wheelchair with robotic arms and hands that can grasp, personal vehicles enabling people to access terrain their wheelchairs couldn’t traverse, and manual wheelchairs with more comfortable and adjustable seats.

The Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal winner is Timothy P. Camus and the IRS Impersonation Scam team. This team led a multiagency investigation and public awareness campaign to stop a massive fraud that involved more than 1.8 million threatening phone calls and resulted in some 10,000 Americans paying $54 million in bogus tax bills. The team’s quick, strategic work to dismantle the fast-moving criminal enterprise led to the indictment of 61 people last year. The indictments and public education went a long way to shutting down the massive scheme, and reports of the calls plunged by more than 90 percent.

Alex Mahoney and the Middle East Crisis Humanitarian Response team are the winners of the National Security and International Affairs Medal. The U.S. Agency for International Development team led U.S. relief efforts in Syria and parts of Iraq, where an on-going civil war and ISIS terrorists have trapped or displaced record numbers of innocent civilians. Working with the United Nations and other organizations, the team continually delivers food, medicine, drinking water and other aid to 7 million people in these war-torn countries.

New this year is the Promising Innovations Medal, which recognizes a federal employee for leading a promising discovery or creating a breakthrough technology. Flora “Mackie” Jordan of the Marine Corps Systems Command is the recipient of this award. Marines have entered combat for years wearing cumbersome protective gear that weighs 150 pounds, making it difficult for them to be nimble or stand guard for long periods. Thanks to the innovative equipment developed by Jordan, new body armor that is 45 percent lighter is on its way to service members. The armor is equally protective and can be adjusted to better fit men and women of all sizes.

Courtney Lias, Stayce Beck and the FDA Artificial Pancreas team are honored with the Management Excellence Medal for paving the way for the first artificial pancreas device to receive FDA approval three years faster than expected. Their work could help transform the lives of the 1.2 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes, who must constantly monitor their body’s blood sugar level and correctly dose insulin for their very survival. Recognizing the tremendous need and opportunity to help this community, the team helped manufacturers get the regulatory green light for a groundbreaking medical device that for the first time automates some of the complicated steps needed to keep blood sugar under control.

The Service to America Medals People’s Choice award will also be announced at the ceremony. This is the third time the public was able to vote for the federal employee they think has made the most admirable contribution to the American people. All 26 Sammies finalists were eligible to win this award.

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.