Named after Electronic Security Association’s (ESA’s) former president, the Sara E. Jackson Award recognizes and honors an ESA member’s work on an association committee, task force or board. ESA Chairman John Loud presented Kirk MacDowell with the award during the opening keynote luncheon at ESX 2023. We interviewed Kirk MacDowell to get a deeper look at his professional life and the steps and people that led him here.
Beginnings in Law Enforcement
MacDowell began his career in law enforcement in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a full-time deputy. Wanting to further expand his horizons, he sought out the Security Industry Association, then based out of Santa Monica. There, he met George Weinstock, who became an influential mentor in his life. George’s father was Morris Weinstock, after whom the Morris F. Weinstock Award was named. MacDowell served part-time in the sheriff’s department and part-time in the Association for 29 years.
Volunteering for the Industry
Since then, he has also served the electronic security industry as past chairman at Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation (AIREF); chairman at the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), chairman at the Leadership Identification and Nomination Committee of ESA (LINC); former board member at the Security Industry Association (SIA); former board member at The Monitoring Association (TMA); and past president of the Los Angeles County Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (LABFAA).
MacDowell is currently the CEO at MacGuard Security Advisors Inc., which specializes in working with electronic security companies to assess business operations, review short- and long-term business initiatives, and provide blueprints for long-term success.
Best-Practice Sharing Above Accolades
Despite his extensive knowledge and experience, Kirk does not consider any professional achievement to be of too much importance. The most meaningful moments to him are when an old mentee approaches him and says, “Do you remember when you told me this or the other?” or “you mentored me and helped me get to x or y place.”
“I’d rather mentor others and have them remember and use that. Because to me, that’s the legacy. What I personally do is going to be forgotten, but what I can portray and share and what others can do that knowledge will be long remembered.” says MacDowell.
MacDowell has served in various official and unofficial mentorship roles, including an ESA mentorship program. Over the years, he has spent a lot of his time helping others in the industry pro bono, using his years of experience for their benefit. Now, working as a consultant, he works with dealers and creators, helping them learn the skills they need in order to move forward. “I think when we serve our colleagues, our families, and our communities with a servant leadership role, we become better for it. The older I get, the more that has become clear to me.” says MacDowell
MacDowell says he was shocked when he heard his name announced at the awards ceremony. Admittedly, he was distracted on his phone during the announcement, not expecting to hear his name called. Those around him told him afterwards his expression was of pure surprise. When we asked Kirk how he felt about receiving the award, he said he was honored but isn’t naturally comfortable with receiving awards. Instead, he told the story of Sarah E. Jackson, after whom the award is named, saying it’s critical that we remember why the award even exists in the first place.
A Bit of Background on Sara E. Jackson
Sara E. Jackson co-owned Denver Burglar Alarm with her husband in 1948. When her husband passed away unexpectedly, she took on full responsibility for the company. A year or two later, she was asked to step in as president for the NBFA, ESA’s precursor. Despite still being in a grieving period, she stepped up and ran the company successfully.
“To me,” says Kirk. “When I look at receiving the Sara E. Jackson Award– if I can do half of what she did, I’m a happy guy. It means a of a lot to me [to receive this award] because she was an amazing person. I’m very honored.”
A Thank You to Kirk MacDowell’s Mentors & Peers
Kirk MacDowell mentioned a few mentors of his own that helped him become the leader he is today. First and foremost, were Sherman Block, the LA County Sheriff he served under, and George Weinstock. They were some of the first prime examples of good leadership Kirk encountered in his professional life. Over the years, there were many others, including Bob Cowan, Joey Chetta, who owned an alarm company, and Bob Jennison, a recipient of the Weinstock Award in California. These were all men who led by example and gave willingly, precepts Kirk strives to live by.
“To me, it’s not about setting oneself up to be acknowledged, to win an award. It’s about taking the necessary steps to make sure that the industry is stronger, that we are better for it…It’s about trying to leave a legacy that somebody else can grab onto and say, ‘that’s who I want to be like’. I get up every morning and pray that I can be better than the day before. So, I think if we could set our sights on helping others thrive in the industry, then we’ve done our job, and we can all die happy and contented people.”
Just hours after receiving the Sara E. Jackson Award, MacDowell also received the William N. Moody Award from SIAC for his passion to advance positive alarm management and best industry practices.
“We salute Kirk MacDowell’s unwavering commitment to outstanding committee leadership. ESA’s achievements are shaped by the skill and expertise of volunteers like Kirk. We gratefully acknowledge his commitment to excellence by presenting him with the Sara E. Jackson Memorial Award.” says Merlin Guilbeau, CEO, of the Electronic Security Association – ESA
The Sara E Jackson Award is not only a recognition of past accomplishments but also a testament to Kirk MacDowell’s potential to shape a better future for the industry. By honoring those who dedicate themselves to service, it creates a ripple effect that inspires others to follow in their footsteps. Congratulations, Kirk MacDowell, on this well-deserved award.
Thank you to Telguard for sponsoring this award.