Bloomfield resident Sharon Malone works behind-the-scenes at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, but her contributions impact all 1,500 employees, helping them do their jobs better.

As quality assurance specialist for the seven-branch Metro YMCA, Malone “is the master of systems, details and ultimately stewardship and mission,” Chief Development Officer Lisa Kelly said. “Sharon has been the key link — and often chief cheerleader — between complex systems and the staff that desperately need efficiencies and systems to facilitate their work.”

Malone received the 2017 Rudolph N. Hawkins Staff Member of the Year for her diligence, respect for colleagues, and volunteerism at the Metro YMCA’s annual awards dinner, held April 12.

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The New Jersey native began her YMCA career 20 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts, largely by happenstance. Malone was at the local branch to work out when the executive director inquired why she, normally an early morning exerciser, was there midday.

Malone, who organized trade shows for Inkadinkado rubber stamps and traveled 18 weeks a year, told him she was ready for a career change and had taken the day off for job interviews. He offered her an interview for business manager. “In my sweats?” she asked. 

She landed the job and went on to serve as the branch’s acting executive director and associate executive director, before being promoted to the finance department for the entire YMCA of Greater Boston.

After her sister had twins, Malone decided to move back to New Jersey to be close to her family. “The stars aligned,” said Malone, who joined the Metro YMCA in 2011.

Malone makes sure all the branches’ budgeting, revenue and disbursement tracking, child care attendance records, and implementation of grants are in compliance with the Metro Y’s policies. She works with everyone from association leadership, to branch managers and part-time staff, teaching them how to use computer programs for record-keeping and explaining the importance of doing so.

“I spent eight years working in a branch so I completely understand what a day in the life of a branch employee is like and how much responsibility they have,” she said.

“Sharon’s respect for the people she works with always comes through, even when she is delivery not-so-easy feedback or insisting on higher quality,” Kelly said. 

Malone is also the first employee to volunteer for fundraising events, Kelly said. 

“I like working at the registration table because you get to see everybody who comes in,” Malone explained. She donates to the Y’s annual campaign and gets others to donate gifts large and small, Kelly said.

“I believe in what we do, so it’s easy,” Malone said. “The Y offers members a support system, and levels the playing ground so that members from all corners have access and are treated equally. The YMCA is for all!” she said. “I tell people the story of the Y, and if they can donate money or pair of tickets we can raffle off, that’s great.”