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Working women: First female doorkeeper makes strides in House, Senate

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Photo by Martin Valent, W.Va. Legislative Photography Photo by Martin Valent, W.Va. Legislative Photography
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M. Sharon (Lewis) Malcolm is not the first person in her family to be involved in the West Virginia Legislature, but she is the first female.

"I'm proud to be a part of it. It's very enlightening for the women of West Virginia," Malcolm said. "To be among the first is an honor."

Malcolm said her grandfather, Maxwell Kelly Malcolm, was once a lawmaker in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Promoted in the West Virginia Senate as a sergeant at arms, Malcolm said the respect she receives from her legislative colleagues is "like stepping into sunshine."

First hired as a doorkeeper in the House of Delegates, Malcolm was the first female doorkeeper in the history of the Legislature. She said after being in the House chambers for seven years, she left to take a part-time job for four years before returning to the Capitol this year.

Originally from Nicholas County, Malcolm previously worked as an auditor, where she also blazed a trail for RGIS Inventory in West Virginia by becoming its first female area manager. The company performs audits all over West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

Malcolm said she owes her new career as a doorkeeper to a former colleague. 

Janet Hill, former secretary to then-Speaker of the House Rick Thompson, was part of the reason Malcolm was hired as a doorkeeper in the House.

"I guess you could say Janet Hill was the door opener to my doorkeeper job," Malcolm said. 

She said in the Senate she experiences respect, decency and honor from Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, to the other lawmakers and doorkeepers, and "back up the chain."

"They treat me with respect and honor, and I'm no different than they are," she said.

With her experience from the House, head doorkeeper Tony Gallo promoted Malcolm to the sergeant at arms position, meaning she is at the front door.

When she's not opening the door to the Senate chambers, Malcolm said she enjoys golfing and playing with her grandchildren.

She said she loves a good book, a variety of music and going to the beach.

Malcolm also praised the only female member of the Senate, Donna Boley, R-Pleasants.

"It's an honor to work with her," she said. "I have nothing but respect for her."