Kurt Westby first joined the Department of Labor in January 2016 as Deputy Commissioner, and was appointed by Governor Malloy to the position of Labor Commissioner in June 2018.
Since arriving at the agency, Westby has been actively involved in growing the agency’s manufacturing apprentice program as well as similar programs in non-traditional occupations, such as insurance and banking. He also believes that we can build a stronger Connecticut by ensuring that every citizen and employer in Connecticut is aware of the many valuable services and programs offered by the Labor Department and its partners.
Kurt brings a background of union involvement to his position as Commissioner. A graduate of Penn State University, he majored in sociology and German and studied abroad in Germany for a year. It was while in college that his initial interest in union matters took root. He worked as a cook, on construction jobs, and as a bus driver while at Penn State. Initially working as a school bus driver and later, a city bus driver, it was at this time that he first became active in the union.
Commissioner Westby went on to attend graduate school at Cornell University and studied organizational behavior. He received his Master’s degree in Sociology and Industrial Labor Relations. While at Cornell, he met his future wife, Ana, and moved to Middletown after their marriage in 1988. Ana began working at Wesleyan while Kurt started a job with at SEIU Local 531 – the Service Employees International Union. The union primarily represented low-wage janitors and he continued at SEIU as the union grew and working standards improved.
Kurt and Ana have two children, David, a student at Tufts University who took part in the Middlebury China abroad program, and Hanna, who attends Middletown High.
Prior to joining the Labor Department, Kurt and his family moved to Madrid, Spain for a year where Ana directed a student-abroad program. At that time, Kurt took the opportunity to improve his Spanish and spent time pursuing his two favorite interests – mountain biking and cooking.
While recognizing that Connecticut has some of the highest-skilled workers in the nation, Commissioner Westby also knows that remaining competitive requires continuous training and education. With the resurgence of well-paid manufacturing jobs in our state, he sees the agency as a key partner in helping employers meet the challenge growing their business and the workforce.