Department of Labor Commissioner Patricia Mayfield — who had signaled that she was retiring as of February 1st — died yesterday at her home in Waterbury of an undisclosed illness.  In her place, Linda Agnew, of West Hartford, will serve as acting commissioner.

The Hartford Courant has a full report on her life and accomplishments here.  And the Waterbury Republican-American does an admirable job providing some personal anecdotes about Ms. Mayfield as a person and leader. 

Ms. Mayfield has had to manage the agency in difficult economic times. Yet despite the challenges, in recent years there has been a noticeable uptick in the amount of outreach that the DOL has done to the public and to businesses. 

Indeed, as she noted in her website page, she touted the ability of the DOL to serve as a partner to the business community for "job-related consulting services, apprenticeship programs, recruiting services through the job bank and the One-Stop Centers, OSHA assistance, regulations, wage and workplace standards, rapid response to company downsizing or closure, shared work programs, and labor market information." 

The DOL’s ramped-up use of the shared work program — while not new — has been ramped up over the last 2 years in response to the desire from employers to minimize job losses and keep continuity in their business operations.  That program has no doubt kept hundreds, if not thousands, of people from losing their jobs entirely.

Governor Rell’s statement goes a long way to explaining what made Ms. Mayfield special:

Her distinguished career with the state of Connecticut stood as an outstanding example of dedicated public service and consummate professionalism…Pat Mayfield deeply cared for the people she served, and she made a difference in the lives of countless Connecticut citizens.

Well said.