Past Annual Achievement Awards Winners 2024

GBA Annual Achievement Awards

Sary Qasim

Leadership Award

Sary has built together an exceptional team for GBA in the MENA region. He has pushed the agenda of BMM in an exceptional manner and has started a new disruptive partnership model between GBA and the associated chapters. An active member of the GBA community for years, Sary Qasim has a heart for the underdog, and a passion to see righteousness and justice prevail in business and in the world.

Michael Kanovitz

Innovation Award

Mike Kanovitz exemplifies innovation. He has created technology that connects blockchains to state and federal courts – something that was previously impossible. Over the last year he has continued to innovate upon the technology to go beyond a Bitcoin fork and build tools that help creators create smart contracts, give NFT holders the ability to swap NFTs and offer cross-chain swaps. All with the ability to interface with a court in the event of a bad-actor or fraud.

Jon Trask

Social Impact Award

Jon has led Dimitra through the past two years of growth to build and deliver technology that is changing the world of farming. Dimitra is on a mission to support small farmers globally fight world hunger, reduce their environmental impact, reduce deforestation, increase carbon storage all while increasing crop yield, reducing costs and mitigating risk. Dimitra’s influence can be measured in several ways. From helping small farmers manage and report deforestation to comply with global deforestation regulations, to using artificial intelligence to help farmers make better decisions to be more effective in a world that is ravaged by climate change. From using satellite and IoT analysis to help manage and reduce soil degradation and increase freshwater efficiency to creating a crypto system that enables farmers to leverage their data to earn extra income. The Dimitra applications have been adopted in 16 countries and counting. Dimitra’s token provides a mechanism for some of the farmers most in need to gain access to the system free of charge. Jon has grown this dynamic company to 150 team members and is continuing to develop software that enables the best decisions to made by farmers, cooperatives and governments.

Pradeep Goel

Courage Award

For his tireless efforts to clothe and shelter thousands of war-ravaged refugees in the Ukraine conflict, I nominate Pradeep Goel for the GBA Courage Award. When the Russia-Ukraine war erupted, Pradeep, an American entrepreneur and businessman, was the CEO of a technology company, Solve Care based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Pradeep had the option to return to the United States to his family to weather the conflict in safety,
yet he chose to stay to support and protect his Ukrainian employees and the people of his adopted home. He started an initiative called “Care Shelter” which built housing and provides food, shelter, schooling, and medical attention to the war refugees he saw displaced all around him. While these efforts were supported by donations from contributors around the world, Pradeep’s Care Shelter
initiative was largely self-funded. To date, they have built more than 10 shelters accommodating 1100 beds and serving over 2500 people.

I know Pradeep to be a blockchain innovator and thought leader, but because of his courage in the
face of danger, and his demonstrated love for the people of Ukraine, I believe Pradeep is also a
hero.
Read more about the Care Shelter Initiative here:
https://solve.care/careshelter/#:~:text=ShelterbySolve.,Care&text=TheSolve.,foodmedicineandhealth
care.

The United Nations- Joint Staff Pension Fund

Organization Award

The nominee has sponsored and supported the development of an innovative biometrics and blockchain-based digital identity solution, which transformed a process (Proof of Existence, Authentication, Transaction, and Location), impacting more than 80,000 UN retirees and beneficiaries, residing in more than 190 countries around the world. Further details publicly available at: https://www.unjspf.org/for-clients/digital-certificate-of-entitlement

In 2021, the UNJSPF biometrics and blockchain-based digital identity solution received the United Nations Secretary-General Award for Innovation and Sustainability. Link to the public announcement of the award: https://www.unjspf.org/newsroom/unjspf-digital-certificate-of-entitlement-wins-the-united-nations-secretary-general-award-for-innovation-and-sustainability

Bill Rockwood

Leadership Award

US House of Representatives
Deputy Legislative Director- Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09)
Executive Director, Future Forum- US House of Representatives

Bill Oversaw the policy, communications, administration, member services, and outreach programs for Future Forum. Future Forum is a generational caucus comprised of young Democratic Members of Congress serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. The group focuses on issues important to millennial and Gen Z Americans. Its core principles include working to bridge the divide between young Americans and their government, engaging and empowering young voters, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

Joseph Lowe

Innovation Award

Joseph Lowe is the Founder and CEO of the Maven Federal Credit Union, the very first blockchain credit union in the USA. The site was pre-launched in November of 2021 and will be allowing GBA members as the field of membership for the credit union. This GBA-sponsored “bank” will be owned by its members. It can be upgraded through consensus to deposit funds and usage as a regenerative financial engine, powering future needs or innovation.

All customers in the MFCU network will receive key powerful benefits which include:
1. No More Punitive Overdraft Fees
2. Removal of All Predatory Aspects to Financial Services
3. Digital Assets will remain in the hands of the people. (Main Street Not Wall Street)
4. GBA Members will be able make loans and investments (Crowd fund) in GBA Member
projects- Profits from those loans and investments are returned to GBA Members
5. Dividends earned by being a relay node or participant node in the network
6. Making history
7. A bank that is owned by its account holders/members

The proposed Maven Federal Credit Union (MFCU) and the Government Blockchain Association (GBA) are working within the framework of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Federal Credit Union Act, to ensure that MFCU is following all appropriate regulations, collaborating to simplify the complexities and punitive services, prevalent within the banking sector.

Kathleen Alcorn

Social Impact Award

Illinois HB 212 was introduced to address, among many things, the impact of emerging technologies upon our future leadership. HB 212 creates a Mental Health Task Force for Communication, Intelligence, Empathy, Emotion, and Empowerment. Provides that the purpose of the task force is to explore and determine a method and program for all students in primary and secondary school to receive mandated mental health care. This bill will provide students with the tools that they will need to help guide them into a future of emerging technologies that we cannot fully understand nor predict. Mental health is, after all, cybersecurity for the human mind. This award will help further validate and promote this initiative onto larger federal and hopefully, global platforms.

The bill’s Chief Co-Sponsor is Emanuel “Chris” Welch, whose new position as Speaker of the House is historic in that he is the first Black Speaker in Illinois, but also, comes in after the longest serving legislator in leadership, Michael Madigan.

Bryan Talebi

Social Impact Award

From a desert village in Iran to Social Impact.
Bryan Talebi sponsors the GBA 2022 Social Impact Award (for
the second time) while making his global imprint.

President Nayib Bukele

Courage Award

Bukele Created History: Bitcoin Will Be Legal In El Salvador
The young Salvadoran President, Nayib Bukele played a crucial role in classifying Bitcoin as a legal tender in El Salvador. This was a remarkable achievement for the country as with this decision, El Salvador became the First Country to classify Bitcoin as a Legal Tender. The Bitcoin bill introduced by the Salvadoran President gained 62 out of 84 votes of the Congress leaders. The bill officially
passed in the Assembly. It is announced that Bitcoin will be legal tender in El Salvador and will be accepted as the currency for goods and services just like U.S. Dollars. According to the Bitcoin Law, Bitcoin will be instantly convertible to US Dollar and for commerce and legal obligations; Bitcoin will possess the same legal standing in the country. To ensure the ease to use the bitcoins for the Salvadorans, the government will come up with the required resources and the technologies which are requisite for the use of the
currency. The legalization of the currency in El Salvador is expected to be a constructive step towards boosting foreign investment, economic growth, and employment generation in the country. Bukele
also mentioned previously that adopting bitcoins will make the financial services accessible to a lot of citizens in El Salvador, as they do not require bank accounts for the transaction of the currency,
this will play a major role in the growth of the country’s GDP. Moreover, it will become easier for the El Salvador citizens who are living abroad to send the money home. This will not only increase the
investment in the country but “This will improve lives and the future of millions.”

Amelia Powers Gardner

Leadership Award

From the beginning of her first term as a newly elected County Clerk in Utah County, Utah, Amelia Powers Gardner faced many hurdles implementing blockchain technology. Her peers and mentors, County Clerks throughout the state, told her it could not be done. Criticism in the form of social media, formal complaints against her office, bad press from local news outlets, and emails against her work sent to every state legislator and official in Utah opposed her ideas of innovation and change. Her peers encouraged her to use more traditional and time-tested solutions. Through all this adversity, Amelia successfully implemented blockchain solutions and even expanded their use after successful audits showed solid performance and improvements with the implementation of blockchain solutions.

So exactly what did she implement? By using blockchain for marriage license certification (using “Titan Seal”) and voting enhancements (using “Voatz”) for voters with disabilities, Ms. Powers has moved these two services to the blockchain. She believes that in the United States, every citizen has a right to vote and every voter has a right to vote independently. Amelia Powers Gardner utilized blockchain technology to bring the vote to the disabled voter, by providing an auditable, safe and secure way for voters to submit their ballot on a Blockchain.

After successful implementation, Amelia feels that the challenges of implementing blockchain solutions have been worth the hardships. The improvements in efficiency, transparency, and immutability of blockchain are unparalleled and have huge potential in government. For this to be possible, it requires government officials like Amelia Powers Gardner, who are willing to weather the storms of naysayers to accomplish these tasks. Few government officials, particularly those who are elected, are willing to take the loud criticisms of the few naysayers in fear of the ramifications. The ones who are willing, like Amelia, are the ones who will bring us into the future.

Frank Ricotta

Innovation Award

Frank Ricotta, the CEO and co-founder of BurstIQ, has created a blockchain platform currently in production that is innovating blockchain healthcare opportunities. Mr. Ricotta’s is the only production blockchain to date that stores Protected Health Information / Personally Identifiable Information directly “on chain”. This blockchain platform can manage the scalability of big data, large data sets, and large files with complex ownership and granular consent. To ensure compliance with government privacy regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Frank pursued independent SOC 2, Type 2 audits and recently received security and compliance certification without any corrective actions required.

BurstIQ’s innovation has already created an evidence-based impact to Intermountain Healthcare and its spinoff company, Empiric Health, by allowing aggregation of disparate surgical health datasets and deep analytics that resulted in $90 million in savings. BurstIQ is replicating this initiative with several large pharmaceutical companies and dozens of smaller healthcare startups who have reported in our recent marketing survey that they would have had to hire three companies if BurstIQ did not exist.

BurstIQ is the only blockchain company member of the United Nations Global Compact which provides BurstIQ with a framework to collaborate with governments, NGO’s, and enterprises for a common set of goals. BurstIQ has also executed a strategic partnership with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to support activities related to international trade and commerce. The partnership with ITA involves educating the public about the economic benefits of blockchain with trade.

BurstIQ has participated in initiatives with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Economic Forum, the European Union Parliament Intercontinental Blockchain Initiative, and Global Women in Blockchain organization, among others, and has worked with clients on nearly every continent.

Bobbi Muscara

Social Impact Award

Bobbi Muscara is the Chairperson of the Hyperledger Learning Materials Development Working Group in Princeton, New Jersey. During the Summer of 2019, Ms. Muscara challenged the New Jersey Blockchain meetup groups, to create a blockchain project to benefit the needs of the local community. Blockchain Princeton is comprised of a diverse group of area Blockchain Enthusiasts who want to leverage this new technology for Social Good. Her goal was to educate the community about Blockchain and how this new technology can change the way data is stored, while also providing community service through its’ use. Ms. Muscara knew that in the summer months, the farms in New Jersey produced excessive crops, and that some of this produce would go to waste. She decided to use that situation to the communities’ advantage and developed the Giving Chain Community Service Summer Project. The objectives of this project were to collect excess fresh produce and other basic goods to donate to those in need, such as veterans and food banks. She also wanted participants to learn how Blockchain technology could track donation, transportation, and recipient of the goods by developing an agile & transparent network for connecting surplus foods & supplies to communities in need.

On Princeton’s The Giving Chain Project Day, August 25, 2019:
100 Bags of Food were collected.
1 Mural was Painted.
A Network was built.
610 pounds of food were delivered to Flemington Food Pantry (over 1/4 ton).
30 Giving Bags were Delivered to Homeless US Veterans.
All of this was tracked on a simulated Hyperledger Sawtooth Blockchain.
This was a Rewarding experience for all involved.

Carlos Toriello HerrerĂ­as

Courage Award

Carlos Toriello Herrerias began a Guatemala Blockchain Meetup in September 2016 and grew the sparse meetup until it attracted over 100 people. Each meetup enabled visitors the opportunity to open wallets and make crypto purchases. Several initiatives were spun out of this first community, including Ceiba.io. Ceiba.io is a means to accelerate blockchain adoption in the region via an active
community that educates and welcomes anyone into the blockchain industry. It has evolved into an active cryptocurrency and blockchain community focused in Guatemala with members from Mexico through Panamá. Carlos then had the idea for what became #Fiscal Digital. Carlos’ #Fiscal Digital hopes to provide legitimacy to elections, reduce conflicts and prevent violence by using multiple levels of Blockchain technologies. Carlos faced significant challenges with his #Fiscal Digital project. His team found evidence that tens of thousands of documents could have been tampered with. This meant that not every high official wanted legitimacy in elections. Carlos spoke during a nationally televised public event, in the presence of 5 magistrates of the national voting authorities, and the national representatives of all 26 political parties, insisting that the JPG votes be delivered only if they were accompanied by a hash signature. This would trace their origin to the national voting authority. His recommendation was included in the legal document known as TSE’s “Acuerdo Magisterial 351-2019. By June, all hashes were verified, and the resulting information was registered on the Bitcoin and DogeCoin blockchains. This means that all the JPGs utilized by #Fiscal Digital can be independently verified and traced back to the official handoff via 4 different blockchains. Much more work is still to be done as possible illegal alterations are still happening in the Guatemala elections. In December of 2019, Carlos and the #Fiscal Digital coalition presented a formal
proposal to the Electoral Modernization and Updating Commission suggesting using blockchain certifications to replace wasteful paper trails, redesign election documents to allow machine reading, and limit the voting authorities IT department’s responsibilities as solely the implementation of #1 and #2.

The Guatemalan Justice Department’s office of Election Crimes formally began an impeachment inquiry which proved that there were clear indications of criminal conduct within the national voting authority’s Preliminary Results system. Therefore, #Fiscal Digital’s proposals will save millions of dollars in waste, produce faster and safer results, and also prevent future authorities from ending up in jail.