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Sammies honor outstanding federal employees, innovative solutions

October 17, 2017

Sean OKeefe SammiesEach year, the Partnership for Public Service hosts a black-tie gala honoring federal employees for their outstanding achievements and their commitment to public service. At the event, a select group of honorees are additionally awarded Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, known affectionately as the Sammies. 

Maxwell alumna Emily Simonson ’15 MPA/IR was part of the winning Urban Waters team led by director Surabhi Shah, which created public-private partnerships to clean and revive urban waterways and their surrounding lands.  For their efforts, the team received the People’s Choice Award.

This year’s gala was also the setting for a reunion of sorts between Sammie finalist Lisa Mazzuca, mission manager for NASA search and rescue, and Partnership board member Sean O’Keefe, former NASA administrator. O’Keefe and his son Kevin are the survivors of a plane crash that killed five passengers including Sen. Ted Stevens. That fatal event, as well as the disappearance of Malaysia flight 370 and others, inspired Mazzuca and her team to design a sturdier, more reliable distress beacon that can help rescue teams detect and reach survivors faster. For this work, she was a finalist for a Promising Innovations Medal.

According to O’Keefe, who is now University Professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, “This is a huge development. It’s going to help people out in the most distressing circumstances and will have an enormous impact on scores of people who may not otherwise have had a chance to see another day.”

The following week, Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier provided remarks at Tanner Day at the Maxwell School, a daylong symposium exploring the “Future of Citizenship and Public Service” in partnership with the National Academy of Public Administration. Please visit Tanner Day at Maxwell to view Stier’s remarks as well as panels exploring workforce, governance issues, and threats to citizenship featuring Sean O’Keefe, University Professor; Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and former EPA Administrator; David Sulek, Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton; Dustin Brown, Acting Deputy Director for Management, U.S. Office of Management & Budget, Executive Office of the President; Chris Meek, Senior Director of Global Relationship Management at S&P Global; Theresa Gerton, President of the National Academy of Public Administration Theresa Gerton; David M. Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School; and distinguished Maxwell faculty from a range of disciplines.


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