YAM Notes: November/December 2012

By Rich Banbury

It is generally understood that certain public sector employees take actions which are well beyond the call of duty.  How can such individuals be publicly recognized for their outstanding contributions to the local, state, and federal communities?  For employees and agents of the United States government, the answer is through the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals.  This is a very prestigious honor, bestowed annually on individuals whose initiative and perseverance substantially enhance the commonweal.  Dave Ross, whose habitat is Falls Church, Virginia, has forwarded substantial information concerning the finalists for this year’s Heyman Awards, also known in the federal establishment as “Sammies” or “Government Oscars.”  The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization, administers the awards.  As an example, one of this year’s finalists is Michelle Bernier-Taft, who is the managing director of the Overseas Citizen Services Bureau of the State Department.  For American civilians in harm’s way, while working or traveling abroad, by way of a natural disaster or as the victim of other unforeseen circumstances, Ms. Bernier-Taft is charged with extricating our fellow citizens.  Working day and night, she has undertaken that assignment in a remarkable and dedicated fashion.  Another nominee is Army Colonel Chuck Scoville, who is in charge of supervising the treatment of our wounded warriors who have lost one or more limbs.  Colonel Scoville has instituted a sports-based rehabilitation program, changing the basic approach for the care and rehabilitation of these men and women, some of whom have returned to active duty.  A Washington Post release states that Chuck Scoville has been “credited with helping hundreds of combat amputees lead active lives,” and has “collaborated with the developers of prosthetics to create a new generation of advanced artificial limbs.”  By the time you read this column, nine winners from the thirty-three finalists will have been awarded the Service to America Medals.  Sam Heyman, who was lost to the Class on November 8, 2009, lived life on a large stage.  He was a Ranking Scholar at Yale and a stalwart on our invincible tennis team, which featured the preeminent duo of Donald Dell and Gene Scott.  After Harvard Law and a tour at the Justice Department, Sam made his mark in the corporate world, including his leadership of the shareholder rebellion against GAF Materials Corporation, resulting in Sam’s position as its ceo and chairman.  As a philanthropist, Sam established fellowship programs at several law schools, including Yale and Harvard, encouraging graduates to seek public sector careers with the federal government.

Our summer fellowships have had major and positive impacts on many Yale undergraduates.  John Vrolyk, a John Heinz fellow from the class of 2006, used his fellowship to work for the State Department in Vietnam.  Rob Hanke, who has kept in touch with John, describes him as one of those “walks-on-water types”, who has recently decided to become an officer in the Marine Corps, with a strong interest in intelligence and counter insurgency.

Have you heard of the notorious Studio 54, which once had a reputation as a very hot Manhattan venue?  Well Steve Baruch and his partners have now opened 54 Below, a cabaret, nightclub and restaurant.  As you might have guessed, 54 Below is directly under Studio 54, at 254 West 54th Street.  It is a wonderful space with a Broadway ambiance, upscale cuisine and great live music.  Check it out at 54below.com. 

You should be receiving information about the Class symposium scheduled for next May at the Waters Edge Resort in Westbrook, Connecticut.  The subject is the criminal justice system, covering a full spectrum of issues with experts from our Class, the law enforcement community and the academy.  You may want to fold those three days in with an inspiring New England vacation.