Finalists for Government ‘Oscars’ Highlight Outstanding Federal Employees

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus on Feb. 26, 2020. Schuchat is a finalist for a career achievement award.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus on Feb. 26, 2020. Schuchat is a finalist for a career achievement award. Evan Vucci / AP

The Partnership for Public Service’s annual awards program kicks off National Public Service Week.

Leaders in the federal government’s coronavirus response, presidential transition, 2020 Census and landing of a rover on Mars were among the 29 finalists for the prestigious annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals announced on Sunday. 

Renamed in 2010 for entrepreneur and nonprofit Partnership for Public Service founder Samuel J. Heyman, the program launched in 2002 to highlight public sector talent and has honored over 500 federal employees since then. The awards are known as the “Sammies” and the “Oscars of government service.” The finalists are contenders for awards in the following categories: the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement medal; emerging leaders; management excellence; safety, security, and international affairs; science and environment; federal employee of the year; and the COVID-19 response, a new addition. Additionally, all finalists are eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. 

“For each of the unprecedented challenges we have faced in the last year, dedicated public servants have worked behind the scenes to move our country forward, heal our nation and strengthen our democracy,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership. “The 2021 Service to America Medals finalists have shown tremendous commitment to the public good, and they, like all public servants, deserve our support and recognition.”

The finalists in the COVID-19 response category include: the State Department-led team that repatriated more than 100,000 Americans who were stranded abroad when the lockdowns started; a team at the Internal Revenue Service that oversaw the disbursement of hundreds of billions of relief payments, and a top Food and Drug Administration official leading the coronavirus vaccine approval process.

Other finalists’ achievements included: combating misinformation and disinformation about the 2020 Census, overseeing the landing of a rover on Mars, coordinating the presidential transition that was upended by the pandemic and disputed election, and coordinating the response to the most active hurricane season in history.

“It’s truly an honor” to be a finalist, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, told Government Executive. “I view it as a great honor not just really personally, but for our center and for the work that was done at FDA in support of the accomplishment of helping to get a variety of medical countermeasures, but most importantly vaccines, really out there in record time.” 

Kenneth Graham, national hurricane director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “It’s absolutely humbling” to be a finalist and “when you work with great people it really is the whole team.” Last year was a “record breaking season, but at the same time it was during a pandemic, which made everything we did just more complex.” However, “the mission was never compromised or in jeopardy.”

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is a finalist for the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement category, said “the CDC has been an extraordinary place for me to spend my career, to grow as an epidemiologist and scientist and manager and leader to work with extraordinary people who are doing amazing things to protect people’s health here in the U.S. and around the world.” 

Schuchat, who is in her 33rd year at the agency, said it was “surprising and really meaningful” to be chosen as a finalist for the Sammies. 

A selection committee composed of leaders from Congress, government, business, foundations, academia, entertainment and the media will choose the Sammie winners, who will be announced in the fall. For the People’s Choice Award, the public can start voting on Sunday, May 2, for “the federal employee they believe has made the most significant contributions in public service.” The winner will be named over the summer.

The Partnership also announced that its fourth annual Spirit of Service award would go to Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of the Emerson Collective, which focuses on education, the environment, immigration reform, media and journalism, and health. She also founded College Track, a program that helps low-income, first-generation students obtain their bachelors degrees.

Sunday kicked off the 37th Public Service Recognition Week, which honors federal, state, county and local government employees.

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced a bipartisan resolution on Monday to honor public servants. 

President Biden said, “public servants are the lifeblood of our democracy” in a proclamation issued on Friday. “In the face of unprecedented challenges this past year, America's dedicated public servants have risen to the moment.” He outlined his administration's efforts to “protect, empower, and rebuild the career federal workforce.”

During this recognition week “we celebrate and thank our public servants at the local, state, and federal levels who exemplify dedication to the common good,” he said.  

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.