Thirty four public servants were honored for their distinguished service, including nine individuals who were awarded Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals for their high-impact contributions to the health, safety and well-being of Americans at a Washington, D.C. gala Sept. 15.
The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service presented the awards, which honor the organization’s founder Samuel J. Heyman and which over the past 10 years have become among the most prestigious honors given to America’s civil servants.
“The recipients of the Service to America Medals showcase the good that government does, which positively affects our lives every day,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO in a statement released prior to the gala. “By honoring these outstanding public servants, we give America’s unsung heroes the long overdue thanks and recognition they deserve.”
The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, was presented to research hydrologist Paul Hsieh of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 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.
Additional Service to America Medals went to eight federal workers whose achievements range from caring for our veterans to diagnosing mysterious diseases for long suffering patients.
Medalists come from the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the National Institutes of Health, NASA, Social Security Administration and USGS. They work in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Houston and Menlo Park, Calif.
The recipients of the Service to America Medals showcase the good that government does, which positively affects our lives every day.” – Max Stier
The 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal recipients are:
- Federal Employee of the Year – Paul Hsieh, Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
- Career Achievement Medal – Alfonso Batres, Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, Veterans Health Administration
- Call to Service Medal – Ann S. Martin, Senior Intelligence Research Specialist, Office of Trend and Issue Analysis Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
- Citizen Services Medal – Diane Braunstein, Associate Commissioner, Office of International Programs, Social Security Administration
- Homeland Security Medal – C. Norman Coleman, Associate Director, Radiation Research Program, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
- Justice and Law Enforcement Medal – Charles Heurich, Program Manager, and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) Team, Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
- Management Excellence Medal – W. Todd Grams, Executive in Charge, Office of Management and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs
- National Security and International Affairs Medal – James Michael Duncan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Johnson Space Center, and the Chilean Miners NASA Rescue Support team
- Science & Environment Medal – William A. Gahl, Science & Environment Medal,Director, Undiagnosed Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health
The Service to America Medals gala was hosted by Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent, and anchor and moderator of “Face the Nation.”
Medal presenters include Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar; Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki; Rep. Chris Van Hollen; Justice Dept. Deputy Attorney General James Cole; NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; and Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.
The Service to America Medal winners, also known as the Sammies, were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that includes nearly 20 leaders in government, academia, the private sector, media and philanthropy. More than 400 nominations were submitted for medal consideration this year.
National sponsors for the Service to America Medals are Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, CH2M Hill, Chevron, DuPont and United Technologies.
Nominations for 2012 are being accepted at servicetoamericamedals.org.
The following is a complete list of the 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal Finalists by category. (Breaking Gov will publish profiles of each of the recipients over the coming days):
Call to Service Medal Finalists
Water Quality Team Leader
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chesapeake Bay Program Office
Led the creation and evaluation of state plans to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, and one of the planet’s first identified “marine dead zones.”
Oliver P. Fischer
Demographer / Conflict Monitoring and Response Officer
U.S. Census Bureau
To ensure that a historic independence vote was fair and peaceful, helped develop and conduct a critical population and housing census, and mediated local tribal conflicts in remote and dangerous parts of Southern Sudan.
Ann S. Martin
Senior Intelligence Research Specialist, Office of Trend and Issue Analysis
Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Worked with Mexican officials to help disrupt narcotics traffickers from using Mexican banks to launder billions of dollars from illicit U.S. drug sales.
Deputy Recovery Coordinator and Acting Deputy Director, National Business Center
Department of the Interior, Office of Policy, Management and Budget
Achievement: Awarded and tracked $2.9 billion in Interior Department economic stimulus funds, providing thousands of jobs while preserving our country’s treasured public lands.
Career Achievement Medal Finalists
Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service
Veterans Health Administration
Devoted his career to building a national network of small, community-based centers where veterans traumatized by combat obtain counseling, job assistance, medical referrals and other services.
Neal B. Brown
Chief, Community Support Programs Branch
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Helped transform mental health care in the U.S., moving people out of institutions and into community-based care, and giving mental health consumers and their families a voice in treatment options.
Sharon W. Bryson
Deputy Director, Office of Communications
National Transportation Safety Board
Provides assistance and comfort to traumatized survivors and family members of those killed in aircraft accidents and other transportation disasters.
Director, Center for Tobacco Products
Food and Drug Administration
Spent three decades improving public health and treating veterans, pioneering ways to fight AIDS, hepatitis C and emerging health threats, and now leading the effort to reduce tobacco-related disease and death.
Matthew J. Friedman
Executive Director, National Center for PTSD
Department of Veterans Affairs
A pioneer in the field of traumatic stress disorders, who studied, treated and advocated for people psychologically affected by war or other tragedies.
Citizen Services Medal Finalists
Associate Commissioner, Office of International Programs
Social Security Administration
Created a fast-track system for terminally and seriously ill Americans to receive approval for Social Security disability benefits in days or weeks instead of months or years.
Julius Knapp, Ruth Milkman and Sharon Gillet and the Omnibus Broadband Initiative Team
Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology (Knapp); Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Milkman) and Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau (Gillet)
Federal Communications Commission
Developed a comprehensive strategy to ensure every American has access to high speed Internet service, laying a foundation for economic growth and global competitiveness.
Kim M. Nazi and the Blue Button Initiative Team
Analyst, Veterans and Consumers Health Informatics Office
Veterans Health Administration
Established a simple process that allows veterans and beneficiaries in the VA, Medicare and DOD health systems to download their personal health information, empowering them to take charge of managing their own care.
Deputy Chief Information Officer for Operations Support
Internal Revenue Service
Developed a way for prospective college students and their parents to import tax data onto their online federal loan applications, streamlining a time-consuming, confusing and error-prone process that hindered the receipt of federal aid.
Homeland Security Medal Finalists
General Manager, Highway and Motor Carrier Security Division
Transportation Security Administration
Runs a nationwide program that trains truck and bus drivers and other transportation professionals to observe, assess and report suspicious activities that may pose a serious danger to the public.
C. Norman Coleman
Associate Director, Radiation Research Program
National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
Developed a blueprint for the U.S. to deal with the health consequences of a radiological or nuclear incident, and helped the Japanese respond to radiation from earthquake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plants.
Amy Merten and the ERMA Team
Spatial Data Branch Chief, Office of Response and Restoration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Helped crisis managers respond to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill by providing critical information on the flow of oil, weather conditions, location of response vessels, and the impact on fisheries and wildlife.
Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
and Senior Director for Resilience Policy
Executive Office of the President
Transformed national plans to ensure our government will continue to function in the event of a major disaster, shifting from a Cold War-era mindset to a modern, all-hazards approach.
Justice & Law Enforcement Medal Finalists
Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation
Led the investigation of a complex Ponzi scheme that resulted in a 50-year prison sentence for a South Florida lawyer who swindled investors out of $1.2 billion.
Charles Heurich and the NamUs Team
Program Manager, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice
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.
Charles J. Houser and Team
Chief, National Tracing Center Division
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Leads an expert team that traces recovered firearms to help law enforcement authorities solve violent crimes.
Katherine McQuay and Zoe Mentel
Assistant Director (McQuay); Policy Analyst (Mentel)
Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Developed public-private partnerships that counsel local law enforcement leaders on a host of issues-from promoting citizen safety to managing budget cuts.
Management Excellence Medal Finalists
W. Todd Grams
Acting Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer
Department of Veterans Affairs
Led significant reforms that integrate and streamline agency operations, reducing costs and delivering better service to America’s veterans.
Assistant Commissioner for Project Delivery, Public Buildings Service
General Services Administration
In only 18 months and $565 million under budget, obligated $5.5 billion in economic stimulus funding to construct new federal buildings and make existing ones more energy efficient and sustainable.
Ann Marie Oliva
Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Created new data systems that shortened the time it takes to award homeless grants from 213 to 61 days, reduced administrative costs by 90 percent and provided information to better evaluate homeless programs.
Michael B. Smith
Director of Strategic Sourcing
Department of Homeland Security
Saved U.S. taxpayers more than $750 million over three years by bringing together the buying power of 22 agencies and offices within the Department of Homeland Security.
National Security & International Affairs Medal Finalists
Paul B. Dean
Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser
Department of State
Played a key role in the negotiation and ratification of the New START nuclear arms control treaty, drafting portions of the accord, providing legal advice to negotiators, and offering solutions during the tense U.S. Senate ratification debate.
James Michael Duncan and Team
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Johnson Space Center
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.
Dan Meyer and Team
Director, Whistleblowing and Transparency
Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General
Protects civilian Pentagon whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing within intelligence and defense-related activities, ensuring sources are not harassed, punished or fired.
Brian H. Nilsson and the Export Control Reform Team
Director for Non-Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate
Executive Office of the President, National Security Staff
Overcoming stove-piped systems and entrenched interests, designed a modern export control system that will more effectively protect our national security while helping American businesses compete in the global marketplace.
Janet St. Laurent
Managing Director for Defense Capabilities and Management
Government Accountability Office
Provided management and financial oversight that has helped the Pentagon save $20 billion while ensuring our troops have the equipment and training they need.
Science & Environment Medal Finalists
Preservation Scientist, Preservation Research and Testing Division
Library of Congress
Developed innovative imaging techniques to unearth new historical information from some of the nation’s most treasured documents, including the Declaration of Independence.
William A. Gahl
Director, Undiagnosed Diseases Program
National Institutes of Health
Brings together medical specialists to diagnose mysterious diseases for desperate and long suffering patients.
U.S. Geological Survey
Provided critical scientific information to convince federal officials that the containment cap on a ruptured deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was working, thereby helping end the enviromental disaster.
Diane Powell and the LAUNCH Team
Team lead, LAUNCH, Office of the Chief Technologist
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Created a unique government and private-sector partnership to identify, support and help take to market innovative technologies that offer solutions to global sustainability problems.