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Virginia Women in History - Southwest Virginia Region
Item 2 of 10
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A graduate of Rural Retreat High School, Doris Crouse-Mays is dedicated to improving the lives of workers in the state as a labor leader and the first woman to direct the Virginia AFL-CIO.

  • Photograph of Doris Crouse-Mays by Bob Brown, courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • The Library of Virginia honored Doris Crouse-Mays as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2017.
  • The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019.
Born in Rural Retreat, Doris Crouse-Mays (b. 1958) started her career as a telephone operator and quickly became involved in the labor movement as a shop steward. She joined the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and later worked as an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (later UNITE/HERE). Winning accolades for increasing union membership, Crouse-Mays became the Virginia state field director for the national American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in 1997. She attracted new members and expanded the organization's political influence. In 2001 she served as the statewide coordinator for the AFL-CIO's political program and two years later was named political director of the Virginia AFL-CIO. A member of the Virginia Democratic Party Steering and Central Committee, she was elected to the Democratic National Committee in 2008 and was named to the transition committee for governor-elect Terry McAuliffe in 2013. She serves on the board of Emerge Virginia, which seeks to identify, encourage, and train women to run for political office.

In 2006 Crouse-Mays became the first woman to hold executive office in the Virginia AFL-CIO when she was elected to a four-year term as its secretary-treasurer. In August 2010 she was the first woman elected president of the Virginia AFL-CIO and was reelected to another four-year term in 2014. In leading the state AFL-CIO, Crouse-Mays has emphasized the importance of labor unions working with businesses to achieve fair wages, health care, job safety, and retirement security for Virginia's workforce.

Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.