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2023 Secretary's Awards

The 2023 Secretary’s Awards honor the work, sacrifice, and professional excellence of 1,385 employees from components all across the Department of Homeland Security.

These colleagues highlighted below have performed above and beyond the call of duty, responding in amazing ways to the challenges of protecting the homeland. These individuals have displayed a special dedication to the mission of homeland security, setting a great example for all DHS employees who share their commitment to the Department and to the American people.

  • The Secretary’s Exceptional Service Gold Medal Award is the highest award for service granted by the Secretary. The award honors exceptional leadership or service distinguished by achievements of unique national or international significance, reflecting great credit on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by markedly improving the security of our homeland. The Secretary may present the award to an individual or a group.

  • The Secretary’s Meritorious Service Silver Medal Award is the second highest award presented by the Secretary and recognizes outstanding leadership, superior public service, or unusually significant contributions to strengthening homeland security. New to this category are GS-11 and WG-8 employees serving in administrative, technical, clerical, and general support positions. It may recognize a body of work regarding remarkable innovation or notable resourcefulness and diligence that improved the effectiveness of one or more DHS missions.

  • The Secretary’s Award for Leadership Excellence Award recognizes an individual and a team that exemplifies the Department of Homeland Security’s leadership philosophy, principles, and core values of integrity, vigilance, and respect. Puts employees first and inspires and motivates others. This award is named for the first Secretary of the Department, Tom Ridge, who embodied these qualities.

  • The Secretary’s Award for Valor is the highest recognition for extraordinary acts of valor occurring either on or off duty. The employee will have demonstrated selfless response by performing courageously in a highly dangerous or life-threatening situation to protect another’s life or to save significant assets or infrastructure from harm. Both civilian and military employees of the Department are eligible for this award.

  • The Secretary’s Award for Innovation recognizes individuals or teams that employ a strategic and enterprise-wide approach to strengthening the DHS mission and its operations. The nominees should exhibit an ongoing record of high standards of achievement and innovation. The work of the nominee(s) may have resulted in superior performance and/or significant operational improvements in the manner in which capabilities are developed and deployed. The nominee’s achievement/contributions should include maximizing the effectiveness of people, processes, and technologies; providing wise stewardship of resources; and enhancing the capabilities of Component/DHS employees.

  • The Secretary’s Award for Team Excellence recognizes any unit within the Department (such as a Component, directorate, office, division, or section) with outstanding team achievements in operational areas such as law enforcement, aviation, cybersecurity, border patrol, hiring, acquisition, and information technology. The work will have resulted in measurable improvements in training and development and will have demonstrated an investment in the workforce to make it more capable. The work of the unit will include superior performance and significant operational improvements and/or notable innovation in support of DHS missions. The results will include an overall improvement in workforce morale.

  • The Secretary’s Champion of Equity Award recognizes an employee who has excelled in efforts to promote diversity at DHS through outstanding leadership and innovation. It may acknowledge individual efforts exclusively within DHS or with external partners who assist DHS in meeting our commitment to diversity.

  • The Secretary’s Award for Volunteer Service recognizes significant contributions by DHS employees who serve as volunteers with non-profit or community service programs or activities. The employee’s contributions should be direct, sustained, and have meaningful results for individuals or larger public good.

Last Updated: 04/17/2023
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