By Debbie Hersman
One of the joys of heading up a stellar agency like the NTSB is that I get to lead a group of people who are some of the best and brightest in Federal government. Today, I am pleased to brag to you about one of our “stars.” Sharon Bryson has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. The “Sammies” honor federal employees whose work has made significant contributions to our country. Sharon’s dedication to the families of transportation accident victims has certainly been a significant contribution of which we are proud and grateful.
In 1996, the U.S. Congress tasked the NTSB with providing assistance to family members following major aviation accidents. Sharon joined the NTSB in 1997 to be part of this important new mission, and in 2000, she was named director of the NTSB’s Transportation Disaster Assistance Division. Sharon worked diligently to create and define a program that has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of family members of those killed in, and survivors of, transportation disasters. Sharon has participated in the family assistance efforts following more than 140 major transportation accidents. But Sharon went beyond the task set by Congress and extended the program’s reach to smaller accidents and to accidents in other modes of transportation investigated by the NTSB.