AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage accepted the resignation of Commissioner of Labor Robert J. Winglass today, noting his deep regard for the commissioner’s years of service to Maine and our nation. Winglass has served as commissioner since June 2011 and will step down upon the confirmation of his replacement by the State Legislature.
“I want to thank the General for his service to the people of Maine,” said Governor LePage. “The Department of Labor has made significant progress during the past year under his leadership, becoming more efficient and responsive to the needs of our people and businesses. I wish him well in his retirement.”
Upon his nomination, Commissioner Winglass made a commitment to the governor to serve between one and two years in the post. Having met that commitment and having recently sold his home in Bath and relocated with his wife to their retirement home in Surry, Maine, Commissioner Winglass determined that now would be an appropriate time to step down.
“I have been most fortunate to serve as Governor LePage’s Labor Commissioner,” Commissioner Winglass said at his announcement. He added, “His strong, no nonsense and determined leadership has charted a course that will restore fiscal balance, create substantial gains in the efficiencies of the public education system and create a workforce second to none.”
A native of Massachusetts, Winglass graduated from Springfield (Mass.) College, where he earned a B.S. degree in Education; and he holds an M.S. degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. He had a long and distinguished career as an officer in the Marine Corps, which included three years as the commanding general of the 10,000 Marines and sailors of the 2nd Force Service Support Group based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and where he ultimately served as the deputy chief of staff for Installations and Logistics, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, retiring as a lieutenant general in 1992.
Governor LePage recognized the strong contributions the commissioner has made to the department. “The General assembled a great leadership team, which includes Deputy Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. I am pleased to nominate her for the position of commissioner. Having worked with her over the past year, I am confident that Jeanne will provide not only continuity but also effective leadership. Her background in human resources provides her with important connections with all of the people and organizations the department serves.”
Paquette has worked as deputy commissioner since July 2011; there, her previous experiences as a business owner and a human resources specialist inform her understanding of how the Department of Labor interacts with both employees and employers. She has more than 20 years’ experience in human resources management, where she specialized in both training and management development. Her background in human resources led her to found several industry-related publications and websites, including the Employment Times, HR Times and MyJobWave.com.
Prior to founding her media businesses in 1999, Paquette held the position of vice president, human resources at Androscoggin Bank based in Lewiston, Maine. She has also previously served as the director of human resources at Creative Work Systems, a non-profit serving people with disabilities. She has served as a past member of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Maine Jobs Council and several non-profit boards.
“Throughout my career I have focused on finding good people good jobs,” said Paquette. She went on to thank the governor for her nomination, “I am honored to be nominated by Gov. LePage as the next commissioner. Commissioner Winglass certainly leaves big shoes to fill, and I have enjoyed working with him during the past year to solve Maine’s challenges. I wish him and his wife Norma a wonderful retirement in Surry.”
In 2012, Paquette was inducted into the Society for Human Resource Management Maine State Council’s HR Hall of Fame, which honors individuals who helped set the stage or evolve the human resources profession in Maine. She holds an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Dean College, in Franklin, Mass., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She and her family reside in North Yarmouth.
The department administers Maine’s unemployment insurance system, is responsible for ensuring the safety of public employees and provides workforce development leadership and vocational rehabilitation services throughout the state. Under the LePage Administration, the department has focused on connecting Mainers to jobs and helping businesses create jobs through strengthening our workforce development system, improving outreach to businesses and clarifying employment regulations.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to serve Maine workers and businesses by providing assistance and retraining when jobs are lost; helping people prepare for and find jobs; protecting workers and researching and analyzing employment data to support job growth.