By focal point /

Twenty-Seven Standout Agency Employees Named as SAMMIES Finalists

Partnership for Public Service celebrates public servants overshadowed by political headlines.

Federal employees who tracked terrorists, thwarted gangs, distributed emergency famine relief and digitized tools for veterans to collect benefits made the cut of 27 finalists for the annual SAMMIE Awards, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service announced on Sunday night.

Grouped in areas ranging from national security to management to science to law enforcement to career achievement, those who made the finalists list for what since 2010 has been called the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals will be honored at a Tuesday breakfast during Public Service Recognition Week.

“Amid the political headlines, it’s easy to overlook our nation’s career public servants who perform the essential day-to-day work of government,” partnership President and CEO Max Stier said. “That’s why the Service to America Medals are so important–they showcase the many remarkable men and women who assist their fellow Americans with passion to maintain the safety, health and prosperity of the nation.” 

This year’s achievers performed pioneering research to understand the prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities; coordinated investigations that restored financial losses of nearly $600 million for people defrauded by money transfer scams; helped provide electricity to some 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa through public-private partnerships; and identified a new class of rare genetic diseases, the organization noted.

As in years past, the finalists also will be eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award, the winner of which will be chosen by a public online vote and announced on July 19.

The seven finalists will be announced on Oct. 2 during a gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. They were selected out of 300 nominations by a committee that included American University President Sylvia Mathews Burwell; President of the University of North Carolina System Margaret Spellings; Co-Anchor of “CBS This Morning” John Dickerson; Axios Founder and CEO Jim VandeHei; President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation Dean Kamen; bestselling author Michael Lewis; Rep. David Price, D-N.C.; Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn.; Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector and Industry Toni Townes-Whitley; and additional leaders from government, media, academia, the private sector and the philanthropic community. 

All finalists will be eligible to be selected as Federal Employee of the Year.

In a new wrinkle this year, the Partnership at the October event will present its first honorary private-sector Service to America Medal, 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, sustainable energy and cloud computing,” the group said in a release.

Since 2002, more than 510 standout federal employees have earned SAMMIE awards.