2013 Service to America Medal finalists announced

John Palguta, vice president for policy, Partnership for Public Service

wfedstaff | April 17, 2015 4:57 pm

The Partnership for Public Service has announced finalists for its annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies Awards).

The awards recognize federal employees who went above and beyond in 2012 to help advance “the health, safety and well-being of Americans.” This year, 31 feds (including 11 teams) were named finalists in eight categories.

Below, find information about the finalists’ accomplishments, as provided by the Partnership. Click on the links to be directed to a detailed profile of each finalist.

Over the next several months, Federal News Radio will interview each finalist about their work. Check back on FederalNewsRadio.com for the latest interviews and Q&As with the finalists beginning Mon. May 13.


Call to Service Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee whose professional achievements reflect the important contributions that a new generation brings to public service.

  • Andrew Rabens

  • Special Advisor for Youth Engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs
    Department of State
    Washington, D.C.

    Led an initiative to engage young leaders from the Middle East and North Africa to share ideas and learn about American democracy.

  • David Vollman

  • Staff Ophthalmologist
    Veterans Health Administration
    St. Louis, Mo.

    Gathered, organized and analyzed data on cataract surgery results to improve medical practices and outcomes for patients.

  • Manan Vyas

  • Research Engineer
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Advanced the national goal of developing hypersonic aircraft engines, the last frontier of aeronautics, through innovative testing and scientific analysis.

Career Achievement Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for significant accomplishments throughout a lifetime of achievement in public service.

  • William Borucki

  • Space Scientist
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center
    Moffett Field, Calif.

    Led the design and operation of NASA’s Kepler space mission which discovered Earth-like planets as far as 1200 light years away, adding an impressive capstone on a 50-year career that began with the Apollo program.

  • Orice Williams Brown

  • Managing Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    Government Accountability Office
    Washington, D.C.

    Provided Congress with impartial analysis and oversight regarding the nation’s financial regulatory system, issuing warnings about potential risks and making recommendations to improve the implementation of new laws and economic recovery programs.

  • Mark DeMaria

  • Supervisory Meteorologist
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Center for Satellite Applications and Research
    Fort Collins, Colo.

    Pioneered models to better forecast the path and intensity of hurricanes during the past three decades to help communities and first responders prepare for the severe storms, saving countless lives, homes and businesses.

  • Michael Gottesman

  • Deputy Director for Intramural Research
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, Md.

    Throughout a four-decade career, led seminal studies in the treatment of drug-resistant cancer cells and played an instrumental role in improving the rigor of medical research.

  • Philip Rosenfelt

  • Acting General Counsel
    Department of Education
    Washington, D.C.

    As a federal legal adviser and litigator for more than four decades, improved education and helped ensure equal access for all students.

Citizen Services Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to citizen services (including economic development, education, health care, housing, labor and transportation).

  • Dave Broomell

  • Project Manager
    Social Security Administration, Chicago Region
    Stillwater, Minnesota

    Developed a number of technology innovations that have improved Social Security’s customer service and employee efficiency.

  • Martha Dorris

  • Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services
    General Services Administration
    Washington, D.C.

    Delivered timely information on federal programs and services and engaged citizens with our government through the use of web portals, social media, crowdsourcing tools and a powerful search engine.

  • Daniel Madrzykowski
    Fire Protection Engineer
    National Institute of Standards and Technology
    Gaithersburg, Md.

    Dramatically improved firefighting practices by conducting and sharing sophisticated research that has saved firefighters’ lives and protected property across the nation.

  • Terence Milholland
    Chief Information Officer and Chief TechnologyOfficer
    Internal Revenue Service
    Washington, D.C.

    Overhauled IRS’ information technology and tax processing systems, leading to quicker refunds and notices to taxpayers, reduced fraud and better internal management.

  • J. Todd Weber and the CDC Multistate Outbreak of Fungal Meningitis and Other Infections Response Team
    Chief, Prevention and Response Branch, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Atlanta, Ga.

    Quickly identified contaminated medicine as the cause of a major meningitis outbreak in 2012, and led the national public health response, alerting 14,000 potentially exposed patients and providing treatment information to the medical community.

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to homeland security and law enforcement (including border and transportation security, civil rights, counterterrorism, emergency response, fraud prevention, and intelligence).

  • Charles Addington

  • Associate Director of Field Operations
    Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs
    Washington, D.C.

    Developed and implemented an innovative law enforcement program that reduced the high violent crime rate on four Indian reservations by 35 percent, providing a model for other Native American communities.

  • Michelle Colby and the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine Development Team
    Branch Chief of Agricultural Defense
    Department of Homeland Security
    Washington, D.C.

    Following the loss of millions of farm animals throughout England in 2001, developed a new, safer vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease to protect America’s livestock industry and prevent harm to our national economy.

  • John MacKinnon and the Operation Holitna Team
    Group Supervisor
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations
    Boston, Mass.

    Rescued more than 160 victims of child pornography and developed new forensic investigatory techniques to track down the predators that abuse them, resulting in over 50 arrests since 2010.

  • Seamus McElearney and the C-38 Team
    Supervisory Special Agent
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    New York, N.Y.

    Led lengthy undercover investigations that have severely disrupted two of New York’s notorious and violent organized crime families.

  • Stephen Richardson and Team
    Special Agent in Charge
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Mobile, Ala.

    Led a team of FBI agents and Alabama police that saved the life of a five-year-old boy who was kidnapped and held hostage by an armed killer for six terrifying days in an underground bunker.

Management Excellence Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

  • Margaret Focarino and Team

  • Commissioner for Patents
    U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
    Alexandria, Va.

    Led bold reforms that dramatically improved the speed and quality of patent examinations and approvals, helping incentivize new technologies and spur economic growth.

  • Kevin Geiss
    Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy
    Department of the Air Force
    Washington, D.C.

    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.

  • Harry Haskins and Team
    Deputy Associate Administrator for Investment
    Small Business Administration
    Washington, D.C.

    Revitalized a moribund small business investment program, putting billions of dollars in the hands of entrepreneurs who created thousands of jobs since 2009.

  • Claire Votaw
    Director, Project Services Office
    Department of State
    Arlington, Va.

    Developed a shared information technology network for American embassies and federal agencies operating overseas, saving money and reducing duplication.

National Security and International Affairs Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to national security and international affairs (including defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade).

  • Cara Christie and the USAID Horn Drought Humanitarian Response Team

  • Disaster Operations Specialist
    U.S. Agency for International Development
    Washington, D.C.

    Identified a looming humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and coordinated a complex U.S. relief effort to help millions of people who faced starvation and death due to the worst drought in six decades.

  • Hamid Jafari
    Medical Officer
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Atlanta, Ga.

    Directed the global initiative that eradicated polio in India and is leading the effort to eliminate this crippling and potentially fatal disease in the final three countries where it persists.

  • Kenneth Linthicum
    Director, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology
    Agricultural Research Service
    Gainesville, Fla.

    Developed techniques to predict outbreaks of insect-borne illnesses and protect livestock and humans, including military personnel, from debilitating and life-threatening disease.

  • Erica Keen Thomas and the U.S. Mission to China Air Monitoring Team
    Environment, Science, Technology and Health Counselor
    Department of State
    Beijing, China

    Collected and publicly shared data that revealed dangerous air pollution levels in Chinese cities, increasing public awareness of the health risks and causing the Chinese government to confront the issue.

Science and Environment Medal Finalists

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to science and environment (including biomedicine, economics, energy, information technology, meteorology, resource conservation and space).

  • Paul Jablonski

  • Metallurgist
    Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory
    Albany, Ore.

    Revolutionized coronary stent technology by developing a new platinum-chromium alloy that makes the device thinner, more flexible and visible by x-ray.

  • David Lavery and the Mars Exploration Team
    Program Executive for Solar System Exploration
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Washington, D.C.

    Led the Curiosity rover mission to Mars that is exploring the Red Planet’s geology and climate, and assessing whether conditions are favorable for microbial life and future human exploration.

  • Julie Segre, Tara Palmore and Team
    Senior Investigator (Segre) and Deputy Hospital Epidemiologist (Palmore)
    National Institute of Health
    Baltimore, Md.

    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.

  • Josh Silverman
    Director, Office of Sustainability Support
    Department of Energy
    Washington, D.C.
    Discovered and led efforts to halt the release of more than one-million tons of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas from Energy Department facilities, the equivalent of taking over 200,000 cars off the nation’s roads every year.
  • Nora Volkow
    Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, Md.

    Demonstrated that drug addiction is a disease that changes brain function and created new strategies for treating patients with substance abuse issues.

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