Your Neighbor: Meet Deborah Malmo

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

Some may say that connections can be just as important as healthy eating and exercise. Deborah Malmo has spent a lifetime realizing that both personally and professionally. 

“I feel lucky that a lot of the skills that I’ve learned along the way I still get to utilize,” Malmo said. “Bringing people together and for a good cause is something that I’m passionate about.”

As a young student-athlete, Malmo has always worked hard. Because of her academic dedication, she was able to pick a college based on the recommendation of her guidance counselor at Wake Forest University. 

“I moved from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sight unseen to attend Wake,” Malmo said. “Luckily, it turned out to be the best place, and I enjoyed it tremendously.” 

While at Wake, Malmo was ranked No. 5 on the women’s tennis team. 

“I had started playing tennis with former pro Chris Everet’s dad, Jimmy Evert, along with Chris and her siblings,” Malmo said. “I had enjoyed it so much in high school that I was excited to try out at Wake. When I did, it was the first year that they were considered Division I, and we had such a great time playing teams like Duke.”

Active in all areas of the university, Malmo also joined a sorority and was a sweetheart for a fraternity. 

“I definitely made lifelong friendships while I was there,” Malmo said. 

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in business, Malmo was so taken with the area of her alma mater, that she found a job working for then Sara Lee Hosiery. After two years, Malmo decided to go back to Wake and earn her Master of Business Administration (MBA). After she earned her MBA, Malmo continued to work for Sara Lee for the next 15 years. 

“I had so much fun working there. For the first half of my career, I worked domestically, and for the second half, I traveled all over the world,” Malmo said. I went to places like New Zealand, Iceland and Asia. I took the message of L’eggs all over. We were teaching people how to present our displays, provide marketing and advertising tools.

“At this point in life, I didn’t have my sons, Carter (33) and Tucker (25), so I had more flexibility with traveling. I had an adventurous spirit, so it was a great time in life to get it out of my system.” 

Once Malmo’s children were born, she decided to change directions and went into real estate. 

“I also got involved in more philanthropic activities,” Malmo said. “I learned very quickly how much I enjoyed connecting people and bringing them together for a good cause. Being philanthropic doesn’t necessarily mean you have to donate money. There are plenty of other ways you can contribute which are just as valuable.”

Malmo has been a member of the Junior League of Winston-Salem for 25 years. Last year, she received the Sustainer of the Year award. 

“Active members are still completing their service hours and projects,” Malmo said. “Sustaining members have completed their hours and projects. However, they still support the organization through membership funds and in other ways.

“Last year, our chapter celebrated its 100th birthday, and it was special to be a part of it.” 

If not participating at the Junior League, Malmo also likes to support the Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation (AARF) that connected her to her special rescue dog, Caroline. 

“When I found a dog wandering the streets, I called them for help once I realized she was pregnant with five puppies,” Malmo said. They were quick to help me with foster care and placement of them, and I am forever grateful. That is one of the many reasons I helped them with fundraising efforts with their gala at the Millennium Center recently. It raised $200,000 which will be used to help other animals like Caroline who are in need.” 

If it’s not a furry-legged friend, Malmo enjoys supporting organizations like GreeNest with fundraising efforts. 

“This organization helps people get back on their feet by providing resources like furniture for families going from crisis to housing,” Malmo said. “Our big fundraiser is coming up in September, and I am excited to help them meet their goal for it because they do such great things. When you’ve got a good mission like they do, businesses and community members are happy to support them. I love going out and educating our community on what they do, and how their part can help make such a difference.”

Malmo is busy with other irons in the fire, too. She is also volunteering as the president of the Garden Club in Winston-Salem and as a board member of the Winston-Salem Downtown Partnership. 

“We are currently working on improving the greenery downtown,” Malmo said. “I’m excited about what’s coming for improvement in regard to our green space. It helps make people want to get out and about and enjoy time with family and friends.” 

Other hats that Malmo enjoys wearing include working part-time with St. Paul’s parishioners to drive them to and from doctor appointments or grocery shopping outings. She also is proud to call herself grandmother to two granddaughters. 

“And I also make sure that I visit with my mom, who is 92, most days,” Malmo said. “She’s such a talented artist, and I love that she lives so close by now. Caroline and I enjoy going to visit her and her friends and neighbors. It seems to brighten their spirits. Because at the end of the day, it’s really all about connections and making people feel a part of their community. I’ve been so lucky that I’ve had an opportunity to continue doing that throughout each phase of my life. It’s been a spiritual journey that has been so rewarding.”