Hear the Stories

Hear the Stories

In an effort to celebrate and honor the voices of public service, we are sharing audio tracks featuring our 2020 Sammies finalists. Each of our outstanding honorees reflected on their public service journey and accomplishments that we’re honored to highlight.


Lina Alathari, Ph.D.

Developed threat assessment guidelines and worked with law enforcement, educators and local communities to intervene and prevent possible mass shootings in schools, workplaces and public spaces.

Mark Andrew Braza and the Aircraft Carrier Refueling Complex Overhaul Cost Reduction Team

Led the planning and contracting for the multibillion-dollar overhaul of the USS John C. Stennis, saving tens of millions of dollars and ensuring the nuclear aircraft carrier will play a critical national security role for the next 25 years.

Peter A. Briss, M.D. and the 2019 Lung Injury Response team

Identified the chemical compound in vaping products that caused life-threatening lung injuries among young adults, communicating the danger to public health and saving lives. 

Cecilia M. Coates

Created and runs a state-of-the-art global supply chain management system that provides $10 billion worth of goods and services every year to diplomats and other federal employees serving the United States overseas.   

Thomas Debass

Created public-private partnerships to advance America’s foreign policy interests while promoting economic growth and entrepreneurship in developing nations across the globe.

Donna F. Dodson

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier cybersecurity experts, having helped develop the first commercially available encryption standards as well as state-of-the-art guidelines for government and industry to prevent, detect and respond to cyberattacks.   

Matthew C. Eanes

Helped lead the government’s efforts to shrink the enormous backlog of federal background investigations and designed the most comprehensive reform of the process in 60 years.

Neil C. Evans, M.D., Kathleen L. Frisbee, Ph.D., and Kevin Galpin, M.D.

Developed vital telehealth options, mobile apps and digital services for veterans to receive health care virtually, while removing barriers to implementation through policy, regulatory and administrative changes.

David E. Gray

Expertly managed the government’s transition of the National Airspace System from ground-based radar to satellite tracking of aircraft, making flying safer and more efficient.

Monica Ager Jacobsen

Played a crucial behind-the-scenes role shaping the complex legal and policy issues involved in imposing sanctions against dozens of human rights abusers worldwide.

Christopher M. Janczewski, Zia M. Faruqui, Kimberly A. Reece and the W2V Team

Led an international criminal investigation of the largest dark web child pornography site that accepted cryptocurrency to cloak more than one million video downloads, resulting in the arrest of the operator, more than 330 users and the rescue of 25 exploited children.

Vikram Krishnasamy, M.D.

Established a training program and communications network to help local public health officials deal with the opioid epidemic, including coordinating outreach to patients when law enforcement arrested medical professionals for illegal conduct. 

Andrew Laurence, Ph.D. and Shannon Ferguson, Ph.D.

Provided critical information to help law enforcement solve hundreds of drug smuggling cases and other crimes by analyzing microscopic pollen grains to determine where drugs were produced, and the routes taken, as well as the travel histories of crime victims.

Corvelli A. McDaniel and Lorraine Cole, Ph.D.

Created an innovative program for large commercial financial institutions to provide management and technical assistance to help small and minority-owned banks strengthen their balance sheets and better serve low-income communities.

John M. Melle, María L. Pagán and team

Coordinated complex negotiations with Mexico and Canada, resulting in a $1.3 trillion trade agreement overwhelmingly approved by Congress that touches almost every aspect of the U.S. economy.

J. Christopher Mihm

Provided Congress and the executive branch with nonpartisan, fact-based information and recommendations to curb tens of billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and improve federal agency performance.

Claire L. Parkinson, Ph.D.

Conducted cutting-edge scientific research over four decades documenting changes in the ice covers in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans and how they have played a significant role in climate change and adversely affected animal life.

Ira Pastan, M.D.

Discovered a new class of drugs that can successfully treat a rare form of leukemia and hold promise to be effective therapies for pancreatic and lung cancer as well as mesothelioma.

Thomas W. Prevoznik, Joseph Beemsterboer, Gary Cantrell and the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force team

Investigated and arrested 73 health care professionals and other individuals in six states for the unlawful distribution of 40 million medically unnecessary pain pills, helping address the deadly nationwide opioid epidemic.

Beth Ripley, M.D., Ph.D.

Created an interconnected, hospital-based 3D printing network that is assisting health care providers with medical procedures, reducing unnecessary surgeries and helping improve quality of life for veterans.

Jon Michael Seward

Successfully brought lawsuits for nearly 30 years against banks to ensure that tens of thousands of people living in underserved and minority communities could gain access to credit.

Donna J. Shaver, Ph.D.

Championed the conservation and recovery efforts for the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, helping save the species from extinction by protecting and preserving the nests at Padre Island National Seashore. 

Chihoon Shin

Recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on helicopter safety, having investigated numerous crashes and made important recommendations to prevent future mishaps and save lives.

Nancy J. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Developed a highly effective medication for the deadly Ebola virus now awaiting federal approval, providing the ability to treat patients with this highly contagious disease that has ravaged African countries.

John F. Tisdale, M.D., Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. and the Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics team

Pioneered innovative research that could lead to a cure for sickle cell disease, an illness that affects more than 20 million people worldwide.

Elizabeth J. Warner, Ph.D.

Engaged in groundbreaking, evidence-based research for two decades that has led to the adoption of new K-12 teacher training and recruiting practices, improving instruction for students in disadvantaged communities and throughout the nation.