PSRW Kicks Off with Announcement of Sammies Finalists

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By on May 7, 2018 in Current Events with 0 Comments

Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) logo

The Partnership for Public Service has announced the 2018 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists in honor of Public Service Recognition Week.

This year there are 27 federal employees whose achievements include pioneering research to understand the prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities; coordinating nationwide investigations that restored financial losses of nearly $600 million for hundreds of thousands of people defrauded by money transfer scams; providing electricity to some 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa through public-private partnerships; and identifying a new class of rare genetic diseases and treatments to alleviate suffering for thousands of patients worldwide.

The finalists are contenders for seven Service to America Medals, including Federal Employee of the Year. Other medal categories include Promising Innovations; Science and Environment; Homeland Security and Law Enforcement; National Security and International Affairs; Management Excellence; and Career Achievement. More than 300 nominations were submitted for consideration this year.

Medal recipients will be announced October 2 during a gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

All 27 finalists also will be eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. Beginning Friday, May 11, 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 19.

The Partnership will also present its first honorary private-sector Service to America Medal at the October gala to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has collaborated with government through many of his wide-ranging business endeavors to advance the fields of space exploration and sustainable energy.

The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals program has honored more than 510 outstanding federal employees since its inception in 2002.

A list of the 27 finalists follows below. More details about each of the finalists and his/her work are available at

2018 Sammies Finalists

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.

Gerald Ankley, Ph.D.
Research Toxicologist
Environmental Protection Agency
Duluth, Minnesota
For three decades, established techniques and standards to identify dangerous chemicals and prevent themfrom contaminating America’s lakes and waterways

Judith Lynn Allaire DesHarnais
Deputy District Engineer and Chief of Programs and Project Management
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
St. Paul, Minnesota
Directed major flood-protection projects that have saved lives and prevented more than a billion dollars in property damage

Allen R. Hefner Jr., Ph.D.
Power Electronics Project Leader
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Physical Measurement Laboratory
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Developed the “Hefner model” for power semiconductor devices that revolutionized manufacturing ofpower conversion systems that millions of people use today, leading to trillions of dollars in energy savings worldwide

John J. Sammarco, Ph.D.
Principal Research Engineer, Pittsburgh Mining Research Division
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Led game-changing research over three decades that improved lighting in mines, advanced rescue techniques and reduced accidents and injuries

Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D.
Associate Director for Children with Special Health Care Needs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia
Pioneered research to understand the prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities, influencing the expansion of health, social and educational services for children with special needs

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.

Mark L. Bathrick and Team
Director, Office of Aviation Services
Department of the Interior
Boise, Idaho
Built the largest civilian aerial drone fleet to help federal agencies fight forest fires, inspect infrastructure, monitor wildlife and natural resources, halt pollution, and conduct search and rescue operations

Stephen C. Curren and the Cyber Incident Response Team
Director, Division of Resilience
Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Washington, D.C.
Defended health care computer systems in the U.S. from a global cyberattack that threatened patients’health and safety

Karen D. Dodge, Margaret Moeser and Teams
Staff Attorney (Dodge); Senior Trial Attorney (Moeser)
Federal Trade Commission (Dodge); Department of Justice (Moeser)
Chicago, Illinois (Dodge); Washington, D.C. (Moeser)
Brought justice and restored financial losses of nearly $600 million for hundreds of thousands of people who were defrauded by money transfer scams

Blake Douglas Rowe
Director, Forensic Exploitation Directorate
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Defense Forensic Science Center
Forest Park, Georgia
Established sophisticated forensic exploitation laboratories to investigate terrorist activities, contributing to thousands of convictions and thwarting attempts to attack Americans overseas and in the U.S.

Jeffrey Elliott Wood Jr. and the North Shore Gang Task Force
Supervisory Special Agent
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Chelsea, Massachusetts
Led a record takedown of the notorious MS-13 gang, arresting more than 60 leaders and members of this criminal organization in the Boston region

Management Excellence Medal Finalists

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

Guy Demeter
Data Scientist
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D.C.
Developed wide-ranging data management systems that enable FBI analysts to investigate criminal activity and identify threats more quickly

Ariel Gold
Data Program Manager
Department of Transportation, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office
Washington, D.C.
Improved data-sharing to accelerate the adoption of new technologies that increase transportation safety and efficiency, including self-driving cars and vehicles that communicate with one another

Marcella Jacobs and the VA Digital Services Team
Executive Director, Digital Service
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, D.C.
Created online digital tools for veterans to more easily access benefits and services, delivering a high- quality and seamless user experience

Andy Neal and the NFIP Reinsurance Program Team
Branch Chief, Actuarial and Catastrophic Modeling
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Washington, D.C.
Persuaded private reinsurers for the first time to assume some flood damage liability, saving the National Flood Insurance Program $1 billion in claims in 2017

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.

Andrew M. Herscowitz and the Power Africa Team
Coordinator for Power Africa
U.S. Agency for International Development
Pretoria, South Africa
Provided electricity to some 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, while creating hundreds of millions of dollars in export opportunities for U.S. companies

David Huizenga
Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation
National Nuclear Security Administration
Washington, D.C.
Managed numerous high-profile projects with foreign governments to secure large quantities of weapons- useable nuclear materials and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands

Matthew Nims and Team
Acting Director, Office of Food for Peace
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C.
Distributed $1.4 billion in emergency food assistance to 20 million people in four nations fighting famine and threatened by violent conflicts, saving countless lives under harrowing conditions

Hoa Thi Tran, Ph.D., and Team
Asia Team Lead, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
Department of State
Washington, D.C.
Delivered emergency humanitarian relief to nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violent persecution in Burma to find safe haven in neighboring Bangladesh

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.

Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D. and Theodore C. Pierson, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Vaccine Research Center (Graham); Chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases (Pierson) National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Bethesda, Maryland
Developed a promising vaccine now in clinical testing to prevent the Zika virus, which has caused serious birth defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy

Parimal Kopardekar, Ph.D., and Team
Senior Technologist for Air Transportation Systems
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California
Designed a first-of-its-kind traffic management system for unmanned aerial vehicles, paving the way for large-scale use of commercial drones

Jordan T. Manos
Director of Operations
Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (on detail to FEMA in 2017)
Frederick, Maryland
Improved the system used to assess flood damage from hurricanes and other major storms, helping residents receive aid more quickly and saving the government millions of dollars in appraisal costs

Alison Smith, Ph.D.
Chief Engineer, Materials Analysis of Electronic Component Technologies
Naval Surface Warfare Center
Crane, Indiana
Pioneered the use of nanoparticles to mark sensitive military equipment with a unique fingerprint to guardagainst counterfeit products and protect our nation’s warfighters

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.

Margaret Honein, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia
Collected and analyzed critical data to help protect women and babies from the mosquito-borne Zika virus that was spreading rapidly in the U.S. and its territories

Daniel L. Kastner, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research
National Institutes of Health, National Human Genome Research Institute
Bethesda, Maryland
Identified an entire new class of rare genetic diseases and treatments to alleviate suffering for thousands of patients in the U.S. and around the world

Barbara G. Kutchko, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Helped rewrite standards for the use of foamed cement in oil wells to prevent blowouts and damaging spills, protecting workers and the environment

Soheila J. Maleki, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist in Food Allergy Research
Agricultural Research Service
New Orleans, Louisiana
Led life-changing research on the causes, detection, prevention and potential remedies for peanut and tree nut allergies, which affect up to two million American children

Tim Schmit
Satellite Research Meteorologist
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Madison, Wisconsin
Developed cutting-edge satellite technology for detecting and monitoring severe weather, helping protect people and property from approaching disasters

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.