BOSTON -- Pittsfield native and former City Councilor Jamie R. Williamson has been appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick as chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

"I am honored to appoint Jamie as chair of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination," Patrick said in a release. "Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help us bring an end to discrimination and promote equal justice."

Williamson previously headed the MCAD's Springfield office, where she oversaw the administration, adjudication and education in civil rights matters for the commonwealth. She replaces MCAD Chairman Julian Tynes, who is now serving as the Director of Labor Relations for the state Department of Transportation.

"As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I am both humbled and honored to be appointed chairman by Governor Patrick to represent, lead and serve the commonwealth's premier civil rights agency, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination," Williamson said. "I look forward to carrying out its mission and addressing the current civil rights issues that impact the citizens and businesses of the commonwealth."

Williamson has served as a commissioner of MCAD since 2010.

Prior to joining the MCAD, Williamson was executive director of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, based in Holyoke. The private nonprofit fair housing organization serves central and western Massachusetts.

In 2005, Williamson was appointed by the state Supreme Judicial Court to serve on the Access to Justice Commission. The commission was created by the court to provide leadership, vision and coordination to the multitude of organizations and interests involved in assuring access to civil justice for families and individuals.

In 1995, Williamson became the first African-American woman to serve on the Pittsfield council and the first to serve at large.

She also has served on the boards of a number of community and charitable organizations, including the Red Cross, Berkshire Medical Center, the Rotary and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Williamson is a graduate of Smith College and currently resides in Springfield with her husband, William Marley Jr.

"I think this is a great opportunity for her. She has the skills and will make a real contribution to the state," said Will Singleton, president of the Berkshire chapter of the NAACP. Williamson will be a valuable asset in the struggle against discrimination, he said.

"The MCAD is a vitally important agency in our communities, and the high-quality appointment of Jamie Williamson as chair is exactly what the MCAD needs," said former housing court Judge William Abrashkin. "Jamie is fair minded, and committed both to combating discrimination and to maintaining balance in the commission's work. Equally important, she will bring excellent administrative skills to this position. I know Jamie will work within our communities to build coalitions and provide public education as we strive towards the goal of ending discrimination in all of its forms."

"The MCAD Advisory Board has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Commissioner Williamson since she was first appointed by Governor Patrick to the MCAD in August 2010, and we look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role as chair," said Thomas Gallitano, chairman of the advisory board.