Pamala M. Shaughnessey-Banks, owner-operator of the Reef Road funeral home that bears her name, has been presented a Chamber of Commerce award that aims to highlight the accomplishments of business women in Fairfield.

Shaughnessey-Banks received the Women's Economic Spotlight Recognition Award during a ceremony March 14 at the funeral home.

The award is co-sponsored by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and state Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-133. Shaughnessey-Banks is the chairman of the chamber.

The mortuary industry always has been male dominated, and today, fewer than 5 percent of the nation's funeral homes are owned by women, the award sponsors said in a news release.

The Shaughnessey Banks Funeral Home at 50 Reef Road is particularly unusual because it is run by a team of women. In addition to the owner, they include funeral director Sheryl Shaughnessey, funeral director and embalmer Rebecca Lautenslager, and operations manager Terese Travis Horvath.

"Pam and her team bring an important perspective to the industry, providing compassionate and personalized care to Fairfield families when they need it most," Fawcett said in the release.

The business was founded in 1952 by the late Thomas Shaughnessey, the owner's father, and she learned the business at his side. She attended Boston College and Fairfield University, where she received a bachelor's degree.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to work and learn side by side with my father for many years and was uniquely positioned to apply my previous business experience and education to the funeral home business," Shaughnessey-Banks said in the release.

She said women often bring added warmth and sensitivity to helping people after the death of a loved one.

Shaughnessey-Banks is the second woman to receive the award, which will be given periodically. Victoria Vitale Niedermeier, manager of Salon 1560 downtown, was the first winner last fall.

Beverly Balaz, the chamber's executive director, said the organization is happy to spotlight successful business women.

"We have so many strong women leaders in Fairfield like Pam who are running businesses and volunteering in our community," said Balaz. "They add to the dynamic energy of our growing business community."