People’s Choice Award

The Sammies People’s Choice award gives special recognition to one of the current year’s finalists.

The People’s Choice selection is based solely on the total number of votes each finalist receives and is separate from the selection of the category award winners. An individual or team may win both the People’s Choice award and the category award for which they are a finalist.

Who Votes

Anyone may vote for the People’s Choice.

How it Works

  1. Read the finalists’ profiles to learn about their accomplishments,
  2. Vote for your top picks using the poll on this page. You may select as many finalists as you like.
  3. Vote again! You may submit your vote once every 24 hours, and you can vote for the same or different finalists each time.
  4. Throughout the voting period, we will narrow the field and reset the poll for the remaining top contenders.


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The 2024 Finalists

Department of the Air Force
Thaddeus A. Ryba Jr.
Played a critical diplomatic and scientific role in international negotiations that led to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria and Libya, contributed to the final destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile and enabled the banning of deadly nerve agents.
Department of Justice
Kaitlin Sahni, Kate Naseef, Nhan Nguyen and the Chemical Prosecutions Team
Investigated and prosecuted the first case against individuals supplying precursor chemicals to a Mexican drug cartel, disrupting methamphetamine and fentanyl production in Mexico and establishing a framework to build similar cases in the future.
Department of Health and Human Services
Janet Woodcock 
Transformed the Food and Drug Administration’s drug review process to expand access to generic medicines and promising medications to treat severe, life-threatening diseases.
Environmental Protection Agency
Pete Guria, Steve Calanog, Tara Fitzgerald and the 2023 Maui Wildfires Emergency Response Team
Directed more than 300 Environmental Protection Agency personnel to remove tons of hazardous materials from the Maui wildfires while respecting local cultural norms and setting standards for federal response teams that followed.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Neil Cheatwood, Stephen Hughes
Envisioned and led the development of a new inflatable heat shield for planetary entry, descent and landing that will enable spacecraft to deliver bigger payloads to distant planets, including during a future human mission to Mars.
Environmental Protection Agency
Karl Simon, Christine Koester, Matt Lakin and the Clean School Bus Team
Designed and implemented a program that funds new electric and cleaner-energy school buses, reducing pollution and improving air quality for children in low-income communities.
Department of Labor
Nancy Alcantara, Shannon Rebolledo, Justin Uphold and the Packers Sanitation Investigation Leads Team
Discovered more than 100 children ages 13 to 17 illegally working on dangerous machinery in 13 meat slaughterhouses across eight states, leading to a large civil penalty and a new approach to child labor law enforcement.
Office of Management and Budget
Kyle Gardiner
Played a leading role in streamlining burdensome government forms, shifting how federal agencies collect information and ensuring deserving recipients receive public benefits.
Department of Agriculture
Yan Ping (Judy) Chen, Jay D. Evans
Revolutionized bee disease diagnosis and treatment, introducing cutting-edge technologies to detect virus pathogens and developing novel medicines to enhance bee health and prevent colony collapse.
Department of Commerce
Francine E. Alkisswani, Ph.D.
Advocated for and implemented a federal program to promote historically Black colleges and universities as innovation hubs that bridge the digital divide for underserved communities.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Christopher Johnston, Rachel Han, Ryan Thurlwell and the VA Mobile App Team
Developed an app that enables veterans to use their mobile phones or tablets to view and cancel health care appointments, manage claims, upload documentation, obtain vaccine records, message their doctor, locate Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and more.
Department of Transportation
Tony Mento, Camille Otto, Hari Kalla  
Provided critical coordination as well as technical expertise that led to the reopening of a major interstate highway in Philadelphia less than two weeks after a fiery gasoline tanker crash destroyed a bridge over an exit ramp.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Jerry Ma
Developed new technology tools for Patent and Trademark Office personnel and the public, and led efforts to establish the agency’s approach toward the use of artificial intelligence for inventions seeking patents.
Department of Labor
Christopher Mark  
Devoted a lengthy federal career to preventing fatalities from roof falls and other underground mining disasters, saving countless lives.
Office of Management and Budget
Amira Choueiki Boland
Pioneered policies to improve government services and the customer experience in areas ranging from newborn care and disaster assistance to renewing passports online.
Department of Health and Human Services
Andrea Fletcher 
Led teams at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create online services that help patients dispute unexpected medical bills and hospitals make their prices transparent to the public.
Department of Commerce
Matthew S. Borman
Led pivotal efforts to impose export controls on U.S. adversaries to deny them access to critical American technology that could be used for military purposes.
Department of Commerce
Mike Schmidt and the CHIPS Program Team
Implemented a multibillion-dollar program to supercharge the U.S. semiconductor industry that will increase domestic production of chips that are vital to our everyday life and strengthen American manufacturing and national security.
Government Accountability Office
Elizabeth (Biza) Repko 
Led critical research projects that exposed gaps in vehicle safety features, and uncovered shortcomings in the reliability of the U.S. rail and highway systems.
Department of State
Sammie Tafoya  
Led the drafting of a visa revocation policy for Haitians involved in criminal activity and human rights abuses while contributing to sanctions packages and a U.N. resolution that impose penalties against those undermining peace and stability in the Caribbean nation.
Internal Revenue Service
Trevor McAleenan, Michael Lane
Spearheaded a cutting-edge investigation that led to the seizure and forfeiture of more than $3 billion worth of bitcoin, one of the largest financial seizures in the history of the U.S. government.
Department of Agriculture
Robert J. McGaughey
Developed open-source software that converts voluminous aerial data into detailed information that enables better management of forestlands.
Department of the Treasury
Darnita S. Trower, Wanda J. Brown, Gerald D. Johnson and the Paperless Processing Initiative Team 
Developed a new system that will enable taxpayers to electronically submit all correspondence and non-tax forms to the IRS for the 2024 filing season, laying the groundwork for future advancements in paperless processing.
Department of Agriculture
Tara McHugh 
Partnered with innovators to develop novel healthy processed food products that have reduced food waste and created jobs in high-unemployment areas, and now leads more than 1,400 employees in eight Western states.
Department of Commerce
Marc Levitan, Long Phan and the Tornado Wind Loads Team
Created the world’s first tornado-resistant building codes, conducting groundbreaking research that will save lives and protect critical facilities like schools, hospitals and emergency centers from extensive property damage.
Terms and Conditions

The Sammies People’s Choice award gives special recognition to one of the current year’s finalists. This award does not include a cash, merchandise, travel or other form of monetary prize. Each round for the People’s Choice voting will conclude at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Voting is open to all interested parties. There are no exclusions regarding who may vote for any or all of the current year’s finalists. Use of any macro, script or automated program, or use of false or fictitious accounts to generate votes may invalidate such votes. The People’s Choice selection will be based solely on the total number of votes each finalist receives through “WP Forms” on the Service to America Medals website.

Selection of the People’s Choice honoree is separate from the selection of the category award winners. It is possible for an individual or team to win both the People’s Choice award and the category award for which they are a finalist.

The Partnership for Public Service reserves the right to withdraw a finalist from consideration and recognition if for any reason the finalist is determined to not meet eligibility requirements or intent of the Service to America Medals. In addition, the Partnership reserves the right to disqualify any finalist found to be in violation of these rules, or who obtains or attempts to obtain votes by any fraudulent or inappropriate means, including, without limitation, offering prizes or other inducements.