2013 Sammies Award Winners

Friday - 10/4/2013, 7:15am EDT

Kevin T. Geiss, deputy assistant secretary of energy, Department of the Air Force

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Nine federal employees and their teams were honored Thursday night at the twelfth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals gala.

The Partnership for Public Service presented the Sammies Awards to "public servants whose achievements have improved the lives of countless Americans and others around the world," it said in a release.

"Smart, dedicated and driven public servants are making contributions that change the world for the better, and the Service to America Medals are a powerful reminder of the good that government does every day," Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, said in the release.

This year, more than 300 nominations were submitted, and 31 federal employees were selected as finalists.

Winners of the 2013 Service to America Medals. (Photo: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com)

Read on to learn more about the winners of the 2013 Sammies Awards.

Federal Employees of the Year

Julie Segre, Tara Palmore and Team

Senior Investigator (Segre) and Deputy Hospital Epidemiologist (Palmore)
National Institutes of Health

Stopped the spread of a deadly hospital-acquired infection through the first-ever use of genome sequencing to identify the source and trace the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a groundbreaking model for the health care industry.

Career Achievement Medal

Orice Williams Brown

Managing Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment
Government Accountability Office

For two decades, Brown served as a trusted expert for members of Congress on financial regulatory matters, carefully examining and offering recommendations in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis that helped improve the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief program, the Wall Street regulatory reform law and initiatives to prevent housing foreclosures.

Citizen Services Medal

Daniel Madrzykowski

Fire Protection Engineer
National Institute of Standards and Technology

Madrzykowski conducted sophisticated research that led to innovative ways to fight fires, ranging from improved ventilation and fire-suppression tactics to the protective equipment worn by firefighters. His initiatives have been widely adopted across the nation, saving lives and protecting property.

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal

John MacKinnon and the Operation Holitna Team

Group Supervisor for Homeland Security Investigations
Immigration and Customs Enforcement

MacKinnon and his team combined old-fashioned police work with creative new forensic investigatory techniques to rescue more than 167 child pornography victims and arrest 54 predators who preyed on them.

Science and Environment Medal

David Lavery and the Mars Science Laboratory Team

Program Executive for Solar System Exploration
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lavery shepherded the development and launch of NASA's Curiosity rover, the robotic vehicle that is exploring the geology and climate of Mars and helping assess the potential for a future human mission to the Red Planet.

National Security and International Affairs Medal

Hamid Jafari

Medical Officer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jafari led a global initiative to successfully eradicate polio in India, overseeing the delivery of 1 billion doses of vaccine to 172 million young children each year between 2008 and 2011 to stem the crippling and potentially fatal disease.

Management Excellence Medal

Kevin T. Geiss

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy
Department of the Air Force

Geiss championed the safe use of alternative fuels to ensure energy independence for combat and support missions around the globe and reduced U.S. Air Force fuel and energy consumption, saving more than $1 billion in 2012 alone.

Call to Service Medal

Andrew Rabens

Special Advisor for Youth Engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs
Department of State

Rabens has helped build strong relationships with aspiring young leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, organizing a conference that brought together young people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the Palestinian Territories to share ideas and learn about American democracy.

Honorary Service to America Medal

Antonio J. Mendez

Central Intelligence Agency (Ret.)

Mendez is the real-life hero who orchestrated an elaborate clandestine operation immortalized in the movie "Argo," to free six American diplomats trapped in Iran in 1980. This incredible achievement was part of a long CIA career in which he helped change the identity and appearance of thousands of U.S. spies during the Cold War by creating disguises, fabricating documents and convincing cover stories.