Skip to main content

U.S. flag An official website of the United States government

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

APHIS’ Osama El-Lissy Named as Finalist for the 2019 Service to America Medals

Washington, D.C. May 14, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is pleased to announce today that Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine, is a finalist for a 2019 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, or “Sammie” as it is often called.

Through the Sammies, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service honors exceptional federal workers who break down barriers, overcome huge challenges and get results. The Partnership announced the full slate of finalists, which includes 26 federal employees and teams, on May 5.

El-Lissy is a finalist for the Management Excellence Medal, which recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government. Specifically, he is being honored for his work in designing and implementing a program that led the United States to become the first and only country to eradicate the pink bollworm (PBW), saving cotton growers tens of millions of dollars annually in control costs and lost production.

As the third largest producer of cotton in the world, the U.S. cotton industry generates $27 billion annually in revenues to various industry segments with total economic activity estimated at $100 billion. El-Lissy was instrumental in helping to save U.S. cotton production and protect U.S. cotton exports against the devastating pink bollworm, while protecting the environment.

In 1994, El-Lissy persuaded cotton growers in Texas to work together using a multifaceted area-wide approach in a public-private partnership to fight another cotton pest, the boll weevil. Six years later, he convinced the growers to use the same innovative approach to eradicate PBW when he joined APHIS in 2000. This approach relied on scientifically sound and environmentally friendly strategies, which helped to prevent the introduction of millions of pounds of pesticides into the environment each year. In 2018, the U.S. declared eradication of pink bollworm in all commercial cotton growing regions of the country, saving the U.S. cotton industry $32 million annually in control costs and yield losses and finally ending a historic 101-year battle against this pest.

El-Lissy is a prime example of how one person’s vision, hard work, innovation, and collaborative approach can have a huge impact on the future of an iconic U.S. industry and the environment. APHIS is proud to have such a dedicated leader nominated for the Management Excellence Medal. The 2019 winners will be selected based on votes received from the public starting May 10th, 2019. We encourage all stakeholders show their support and vote.

Learn more about the 2019 finalist and vote,


USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

Complementary Content