Outstanding Feds to Be Honored at 2021 Service to America Awards
The annual awards are considered the “Oscars of government service.”
A group of outstanding federal employees will be honored on Thursday night during the 20th annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (the Sammies), which are considered the “Oscars of government service.”
“This year’s winners brilliantly showcase how exceptional public servants are leading the efforts to solve many of our nation’s greatest challenges,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, which hosts the awards. “It is no understatement to say that the 2021 Service to America Medal honorees have changed the world with their accomplishments, and the depth and breadth of their impact is immeasurable. We thank and celebrate them and all dedicated public servants.”
A selection committee composed of leaders from government, business, charities, academia, entertainment and the media chose the winners from among 29 finalists out of more than 350 nominations.
The Federal Employees of the Year medal will go to Drs. Kizzmekia Corbett and Barney Graham, both formerly of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, for their research that led to the development of coronavirus vaccines in record time.
“Their names will be in the history books,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a 2020 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal recipient, told the Partnership. “All the [COVID-19] vaccines that are doing really well are totally dependent on their work.”
Drs. Gary Gibbons and Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable of NIH will receive the COVID-19 Response Medal for their creation of outreach programs to make sure that underserved populations have more access to COVID testing and educate them on the vaccine and disease treatments.
“Throughout 2020, Gibbons and Pérez-Stable met with drugmakers, including Moderna, to discuss strategies for improving diversity in clinical vaccine trials,” said the Partnership. “On their recommendation, Moderna eventually paused its normal recruiting procedures and began to target only participants from underrepresented communities, successfully improving diversity in the trials.”
Other winners include: the Federal Communications Commission’s Evan Kwerel (Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement medal); the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Callie Higgins (emerging leaders medal); the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Michelle Daniels, Charles Eldridge Ryan Jones and the Office of Public and Indian Housing Foster Youth to Independence team (management excellence medal); the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Reem Ghandour (science and environment award); and Customs and Border Protection’s Ana Hinojosa and Eric Choy (safety, security and international affairs medal).
Hinojosa and Choy also received the Sammie’s seventh annual people’s choice award in August. They “directed enforcement actions against companies seeking to import goods produced by forced labor in China and other countries as part of a broader human rights effort to curb modern–day slavery,” said the Partnership.
Also on Thursday night, the Partnership will award its fourth annual Spirit of Service award 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 bachelor’s degrees.
NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett will be the emcee for the in-person event at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night. Special presenters will include:White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; White House COVID-19 Response Director Jeff Zients, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Fauci; and top officials from other agencies.
There will also be a virtual program that airs on November 1, in which President Biden, along with more than a dozen journalists, athletes, actors, celebrities and comedians, will participate.