SJA Exclusive: Security in the Americas – Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas - security in the Americas

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Matthew Porcelli, CPP sat down with Mikaela Fahey – Steering Committee Member and Community Engagement Committee Chair for the Military Liaison Community at the ASIS International Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas chapters to discuss her journey in the world of security.

What are the most pressing security challenges you are facing in your region?

I participate in two ASIS chapters in Arkansas: Central Arkansas Chapter #129 and Northwest Arkansas Chapter #270, where I currently serve as the Military Liaison Community chapter liaison.

Both chapters provide diverse membership ranging from college security officials, private consultants, to corporate security professionals.

Our Northwest Arkansas Chapter is in a unique position to share the territory with the headquarters of several large corporations.

This small corner of the state is the hub of some of the world’s leading companies, such as the Walmart Home Office, Tyson Foods Headquarters and J.B. Hunt Headquarters.

Also located nearby is the main campus of the University of Arkansas, which provides a backdrop for technology and innovation, as well as producing valuable membership contributions to our chapter.

One of the greatest challenges in this region is the need to stay current with emerging technologies, especially in cybersecurity.

Educating our security practitioners to keep up with current trends and exploring ways to enhance cybersecurity measures is key in maintaining a high-level of security overall.

In contrast to the northwest, central Arkansas has a more sprawling urban population surrounding the city of Little Rock.

Some of our greatest challenges in this area deal more with urban crime, such as burglary and property crimes.

Battling these issues is a challenge not just for those in the security industry, but also our local and state law enforcement, as well as public policy makers.

Combating crime is not unique to a city such as Little Rock, however, having an effective physical security plan in place can help address these issues.

Can you describe your journey in the world of security?

My journey in the world of security started when I was in the US Army.

I took my first college class in 2002 while I was deployed to Macedonia. For some reason it sticks out in my mind that the class was Introduction to Terrorism.

I thoroughly enjoyed the topic and material so when I went back state-side, I made the decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  

I was working full-time in the Massachusetts Army National Guard while enrolled in college classes, thus I had many additional duties with my job.

Throughout my career I served as the Unit Anti-terrorism Officer and Physical Security Officer on separate occasions.

Attending the trainings for these positions paired nicely with my degree and gave me an idea of what I wanted to do when I retired from the military.

I am a bit of an anomaly, because in the military my primary job skill was a helicopter mechanic and crew chief, however because of my training and experience combined with my civilian education, I was able to make a smooth transition into the corporate security sector.

Tell us about your journey within ASIS and how it has helped you in your career?

I learned about ASIS while conducting a mentorship with American Corporate Partners (ACP) during my last year in the Army.

My mentor, Joseph Cooney, who is the North America Security Manager for Unilever, recommended that I apply for a scholarship to attain a certification.

I did so and was one of several individuals chosen to receive a Military Liaison Community (MLC) scholarship that would cover the cost of my study materials and exam fees.

I put the scholarship to good use and attained my Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification in 2021.

I was grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to have been awarded an MLC Scholarship and I felt an immediate bond with several members of the MLC which led me to get more involved.

I wanted to give back to others and help in the way that I was helped.

Ultimately, I volunteered and was selected to be on the MLC Steering Committee where I currently serve as the Chair of the Community Engagement sub-committee.

Being involved in ASIS has opened several doors for me. One reason I was recruited for my position at Walmart Home Office was due to my ASIS certification as a PSP.

The networking alone has been invaluable. I am very new to the corporate security sector and I have used my contacts from ASIS to assist in many ways. Everyone is always very willing to help!

Being recognized as one of the up-and-coming individuals of the MLC group has been fun. I have had the opportunity to participate in a special project working alongside many fellow veterans and security professionals.

Through a connection with ASIS I was recently asked to joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas as an Adjunct Professor and I now teach Crisis Management and Homeland Security courses.

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here.

To read the previous piece about ASIS International – Canada, click here.

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