Ron Ross, a fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and leader of the Federal Information Security Management Act Implementation Project, will be among eight federal employees to win the 2015 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal being presented at the partnership’s 14th annual ceremony Wednesday evening.
Ross will receive the medal — named for the businessman, philanthropist and one-time Department of Justice attorney Sam Heyman, who founded the Partnership for Public Service — for his efforts to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity. Known as the “Sammies,” the awards celebrate “public servants whose outstanding achievements have improved the lives of Americans and others around the world,” and are considered to be among the most prestigious recognitions of civil service in the U.S.
The winners, selected from among 30 finalists, and more than 500 nominations, included a top surgeon, several scientists and other executives whose work in the federal government made a significant impact throughout the U.S. and the world.
“Too often, the vital work of our nation’s public servants goes unnoted and unappreciated,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals recognize and celebrate the many exceptional federal employees who have quietly, proudly and passionately dedicated their lives to making a difference for our country — and our world.”
As director of the FISMA Implementation Project, Ross is tasked with “the development of security standards and guidelines for the federal government, contractors, and the United States critical information infrastructure,” according to his bio. Ross also leads the Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative, a partnership with NIST, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the Office of the Director National Intelligence and the Committee on National Security Systems to “develop a unified information security framework for the federal government.”
“Ron is the rock star of cyber,” said Donna Dodson, NIST’s chief cybersecurity adviser. “He took a field that had no rigor and discipline and developed approaches that are used here and worldwide.” She went on to say that the framework he developed “is a way of thinking about protecting information from tip to tail.”
Ross, who was initially nominated into a pool of 30 finalists, was one of eight government employees to receive the honor. Throughout his career, he has received 13 other awards for his contributions to the cybersecurity field, including an National Security Administration’s Scientific Achievement Award and Symantec’s Cyber 7 Award.
“People say we are so far behind on cybersecurity,” said Howard Schmidt, a cybersecurity adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “I dread to think where we would be if Ron wasn’t around.”
The other recipients of the 2015 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals include:
Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Chief, Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute, who was named Federal Employee of the Year
Adam R. Schildge, Senior Program Analyst, Federal Transit Administration
Edward C. Hugler, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations, Department of Labor
Hyun Soon Lillehoj, Senior Research Molecular Biologist, Agricultural Research Service
Jacob E. Moss, Senior Advisor, Environmental Protection Agency
Lucile Jones,Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, U.S. Geological Survey
Mia Beers, Director, Humanitarian Policy and Global Engagement Division, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team
The awards ceremony will be livestreamed, starting at 6:30 p.m.