It’s that time of year again. When the Partnership for Public Service reminds all of us of the diverse range of mission-first work government employees and federal contractors do every day. This morning the Partnership announced the 26 finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, affectionately known as the Sammies.

what are THE SAMMIES?

The Partnership for Public Service was founded in 2001 by the late Samuel J. Heyman with a gift of $25 million and, later, an additional gift of $20 million. Heyman, a Yale and Harvard Law graduate famous for spectacular corporate takeovers and reorganizations that saw both successes and great challenges. He served as an attorney in the Department of Justice under John F. Kennedy. Heyman later inherited his father’s real estate firm and took it to the top of New England commercial development. A generous philanthropist with a passionate for encouraging public service, Heyman was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush in 2008.


The Sammies recognize excellence in public service in seven categories: Federal Employee of the Year, Career Achievement, Homeland Security and Law Enforcement, Management Excellence, National Security and International Affairs, Science and Environment, and Promising Innovations (a new category “to recognize federal employees who are developing cutting-edge technologies or driving innovative approaches that have demonstrated measurable success and great potential but are still in progress). This year, finalists hail from the Justice Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S Army, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and NASA, among many others.

national security contributions

Department of Justice finalist John Simbert, finalist for the National Security and International Affairs category, spent the last three and a half years helping Albania establish a new, effective set of criminal laws to turn around a government consumed by corruption and infiltrated by organized crime networks. The ambassador to Albania reports, “’A lot of Albanians consider him a hero.’” Also in the same category, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Vincent Tang and his Sigma Team reached the finalist line with their work developing a system that detects trace amounts of radiological and nuclear materials. This technology, called SIGMA, “promises to provide greater protection for highly populated cities in the United States and around the world.”


The purpose of the annual Service to America Medals is to highlight the incredible research, innovative spirit, and contributions of those who serve the nation. The Partnership for Public Service hopes that this sort of national recognition might both demonstrate to those considering careers in government the tremendous potential and opportunity

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.