These awards are especially important “during these turbulent times when federal employees have been threatened and demonized,” nonprofit leader says.
A group of outstanding federal employees will be honored on Tuesday night during the “Oscars of government service” for their work ranging from COVID-19 vaccine distribution to settlement of Afghan refugees to launching NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and more.
The 21st annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (the “Sammies”), run by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, will be presented at a gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday evening. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff; Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough; and other top agency officials will serve as presenters.
“During these turbulent times when federal employees have been threatened and demonized, the accomplishments of the Sammies winners demonstrate the important role that dedicated civil servants and our government play in meeting the critical needs of the nation,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership. “The work of our government is often invisible to the public, but the 2022 Service to America Medal winners place the spotlight on a wide range of remarkable success stories and defy the stereotypes of those who are dedicated to serving the nation and our collective interests.”
The 2022 winners were selected from a group of over 400 nominations. The finalists were chosen by a selection committee that had leaders from government, business, charity organizations, academia, entertainment and media.
NASA’s Gregory Robinson is the recipient of the Federal Employee of the Year award, the Sammies’ top honor, for his work overseeing “the successful launch of NASA’s revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope after years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns, setting the stage for spectacular discoveries about the origins of the universe,” said a press release from the Partnership.
Other winners include: NIAID’s Dr. H. Clifford Lane (Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Amanda Cohn, Anita Patel and David Fitter (COVID-19 Response Medal); the Labor Department’s Krista Kinnard (Emerging Leaders Medal); the Veterans Affairs Department’s Barbara Morton (Management Excellence Medal); the State Department’s Hilary Ingraham, Holly Herrera and Kiera Berdinner (Safety, Security and International Affairs Medal); and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cindy Newberg (Science, Technology and Environment Medal).
These employees’ work includes HIV/AIDS research, COVID-19 vaccine distribution, resettlement of Afghan refugees after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and curbing incredibly harmful greenhouse gasses.
Additionally, Joshua Josa of the U.S. Agency for International Development is the recipient of the eighth annual people’s choice award, with which he was presented in July. “Josa leveraged U.S. resources and influence to provide educational opportunities to thousands of children with disabilities living in developing nations,” said the Partnership.
Finally, the Partnership will award its fifth annual Spirit of the Service Award to Darren Walker, president and CEO of the Ford Foundation, for his contributions to public service.
In the wake of an increase in threats against federal law enforcement personnel following the FBI’s search of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and the resurgence of a plan by former Trump officials to strip federal employees of their civil service protections, Stier wrote in The Hill earlier this month, “the increasingly common demonization of federal public servants as untrustworthy ‘bureaucrats’ pursuing their own agendas ignores the reality that policy decisions are made by Congress and the White House, and that professional career employees have routinely implemented those initiatives for both Republican and Democratic administrations.”
Stier cited a handful of the Sammies finalists who “are just a few of the countless public servants making a huge difference for the country.”