September 15, 2011
Contact: Sarah Howe


"Oscars" of Government Service Recipients Work in Washington, D.C., Maryland,
California and Texas

WASHINGTON – The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service will present nine Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) at a Washington, D.C. gala on September 15 to outstanding public servants who are making high-impact contributions to the health, safety and well-being of Americans.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Sammies have earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious awards dedicated to honoring America's civil servants.

The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, will be presented to research hydrologist Paul Hsieh of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for providing critical information to help end the worst oil spill in the nation's history, the 2010 rupture of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Additional Service to America Medals will go to federal workers whose achievements range from caring for our veterans to diagnosing mysterious diseases for long suffering patients.

Medalists come from the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the National Institutes of Health, NASA, Social Security Administration and USGS. They work in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Houston and Menlo Park, Calif.

"The recipients of the Service to America Medals showcase the good that government does, which positively affects our lives every day," said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. "By honoring these outstanding public servants, we give America's unsung heroes the long overdue thanks and recognition they deserve."

The 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal recipients are:

  • Alfonso Batres, Career Achievement Medal
    Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, Veterans Health Administration
    Batres, a Vietnam War veteran, has devoted his career to building a national network of 300 small, community-based centers where veterans traumatized by combat obtain counseling, job assistance, medical referrals and other services, often from veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • William A. Gahl, Science & Environment Medal
    Director, Undiagnosed Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health
    Gahl is America's leading medical sleuth, a physician dedicated to finding answers for suffering patients with mysterious diseases that have long eluded diagnosis. As the founding director of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, Gahl brings together a unique combination of elite medical specialists, researchers and federal resources to solve baffling illnesses. Results include successful diagnosis and treatments of diseases so rare that they don't even have names.
  • C. Norman Coleman, Homeland Security Medal
    Associate Director, Radiation Research Program, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
    Coleman, a renowned radiation oncologist, developed a comprehensive roadmap to help the U.S. government and emergency responders prepare for a dreadful scenario – a terrorist attack involving radiological or nuclear materials. Because of his expertise, Coleman was called to advise on the Japanese response to radiation from this year's earthquake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plants.
  • Diane Braunstein, Citizen Services Medal
    Associate Commissioner, Office of International Programs, Social Security Administration
    Braunstein created a compassionate allowance program for terminally and seriously ill Americans to receive approval for Social Security disability benefits in days or weeks instead of months or years.
  • Charles Heurich and the NamUs Team, Justice and Law Enforcement Medal
    Program Manager, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
    Heurich and his team created and launched an innovative, missing and unidentified persons database that allows law enforcement, families and others to share information and potentially solve cases nationwide.
  • Paul Hsieh, Federal Employee of the Year
    Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
    During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hsieh provided critical scientific information to convince federal officials that the containment cap on a ruptured deep water oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was working, thereby helping end the environmental disaster.
  • James Michael Duncan and team, National Security and International Affairs Medal
    Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Johnson Space Center, NASA
    Duncan and his team provided medical, nutritional, psychological, survival and engineering expertise learned from space exploration to help 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days.
  • W. Todd Grams, Management Excellence Medal
    Executive in Charge, Office of Management and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs
    Grams led significant reforms that integrate and streamline agency operations, reducing costs and delivering better service to America's veterans.
  • Ann S. Martin, Call to Service Medal
    Senior Intelligence Research Specialist, Office of Trend and Issue Analysis Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
    Twenty-nine year old Martin worked with Mexican officials to study cross-border currency flows and help disrupt the laundering of billions of dollars derived from illicit U.S. drug sales.

The Service to America Medals gala is being hosted by Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent, and anchor and moderator of "Face the Nation."

Medal presenters include Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar; Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki; Rep. Chris Van Hollen; Justice Dept. Deputy Attorney General James Cole; NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; and Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.

The Service to America Medal winners were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that includes nearly 20 leaders in government, academia, the private sector, media and philanthropy. More than 400 nominations were submitted for medal consideration this year.

National sponsors for the Service to America Medals are Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, CH2M Hill, Chevron, DuPont and United Technologies.

Nominations for 2012 are being accepted at

The Partnership for Public Service works to revitalize the federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works. Visit for more information.


The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.