New Opportunities community saddened by passing of Board Chairman Patricia H. Mayfield

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Patricia H. Mayfield of Waterbury, commissioner of the state Department of Labor, died at her home early Monday.

Mayfield, 65, was slated to retire Feb. 1 and had been on leave for weeks before she died, state officials said. Information on the cause of her death was not immediately available.

Mayfield was named commissioner in 2006 by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and subsequently confirmed by the legislature about three years after retiring from a 35-year career in the labor department. The governor has said that Deputy Commissioner Linda Agnew of West Hartford will serve as acting commissioner.

Funeral arrangements have not been released.

Mayfield served various employment and training programs at the labor department from 1968 to 2003, when she retired. Rell asked her to return as commissioner because of her experience and leadership in "workforce issues," Mayfield's official biography says.

She was active on numerous boards and commissions, including the Connecticut Commission on Aging, the City of Waterbury Human Rights Commission, the board of directors for the Waterbury Opportunities Industrialization Center, and the board of directors of New Opportunities Inc., of which she was chairwoman.

She was a founding charter member of the Greater Waterbury Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women Inc., and was an NAACP member. In 2006 she received the Sojourner Truth Award from the Waterbury Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs Inc. The award, named for a 19th-century slave, is given to a woman who exemplifies outstanding community service and is an advocate for women.

In 2008, she was honored by Girls Inc. of Southwestern Connecticut with the Miriam N. Camp Woman of the Year Award. That same year, she also received the Leon H. Sullivan Award from the Opportunities Industrialization Center of New Britain Inc.

Her biography said that she followed "in the footsteps of her parents" with a commitment to public service and social welfare, and was "dedicated to addressing complex issues that affect the lives of so many in our state." She and her husband, James, had two children and one grandchild.

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