Leading public & private security through communication

Matthew Horace, Chief Security Officer at Pretium & Progress Residential, has championed security across the government, healthcare and technology sectors throughout his 35-year career.

Horace started in law enforcement as a Police Officer in Arlington, Virginia, and held a number of government roles before transitioning to the private sector, including serving 24 and a half years at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He spent his last two assignments in executive roles via the Senior Executive Service (SES), holding the Acting Special Agent in Charge position at the ATF Denver, Colorado Field Office and then serving as Special Agent in Charge at the Newark, New Jersey Field Office, where he was responsible for operations across the state and honed his leadership style by practicing the five core qualifications for SES leaders: leading people, leading change, being results-driven, building coalitions, and developing business acumen.

“Over and above the law enforcement experience, the federal government Senior Executive Service (SES) program really prepares you to transition into the private sector by learning and mastering the program’s executive core competencies,” says Horace.

Horace says his law enforcement experience and the many promotional relocations throughout his career helped him to become more adaptable and communicative in diverse environments.

“My greatest lessons were going into places where I was unfamiliar, learning the nuances of how to do business there, and succeeding in those environments,” says Horace. “Another lesson I learned in the law enforcement space is if you can just learn to support your people and to get them the resources they need to do their jobs, then they can take ownership over their work and their impact on the organization.”

Horace also learned the importance of resilience and learning from failures, as well as successes. “We truly do learn as much or more from our failures and setbacks than we do from our successes and what is reflected on a resume,” he says.

Horace took those lessons with him into his first private-sector security role as Chief Security Officer (CSO) at FJC Security Services, a New York-based security services firm with national federal contracts and contracts local to New York City.

Horace started at FJC three weeks before Hurricane Sandy hit the region. He calls his experience a “trial by fire,” and it was there that he directly learned about business after his government experience. “I had the opportunity to learn about security, guarding and, at the same time, I was implementing a corporate security program,” says Horace. “I learned very quickly that for-profit business was vastly different from government.”

After more than five years at FJC, Horace transitioned into the CSO role at Dominion Voting Systems, a firm which rose to national conversation during and after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Horace held the CSO position there between 2018 and 2019, and he says that even then, the organization was preparing for a turbulent election cycle in the United States.

My greatest lessons were going into places where I was unfamiliar, learning the nuances of how to do business there, and succeeding in those environments.”
— Matthew Horace

“It was really exciting to work with the team at Dominion, but also be very involved with the Department of Homeland Security. I had an opportunity to testify in front of state subcommittees and work with lobbyists on behalf of the organization to talk about the security that we put in place to ensure that there were safe and fair elections,” says Horace.

In 2019, Horace became Chief Security Officer at Mayo Clinic, a renowned health system that serves more than 1.3 million patients each year. Horace says that Mayo Clinic’s commitment to their patients informed the corporate security team’s most impactful projects.

“Some of our big accomplishments were bringing in passive weapons detection and enhancing our technology and building a global security operations center (GSOC),” Horace says.

Horace came to Mayo during a five-year change management program focusing on the security program, and he led major technology implementations and revamped hiring practices to develop the strong team at Mayo Clinic today. Throughout his career, Horace learned that the success of a security leader is rarely about the leader alone, but the team as a whole, “and I’ve been truly blessed with amazing teams,” he says.

Regarding technology advancement, Horace identified needs for improved video management and access control, leading tech consolidation efforts to build a stack that improved communication and efficiency.

“During my time there, we got things to the point where they were more efficient, both financially and strategically, and the consolidated technology worked better for the organization,” Horace says.

In addition to updating security technology, Horace cites some of his main accomplishments at Mayo Clinic as working with an incredible team of security professionals, modernizing hiring practices, and incorporating an anti-bias lens into the security program in ways previously uncharted in the security organization.

“Being here in Minnesota and having been exposed to the George Floyd incident, we were in a position where we couldn’t ignore the obvious,” says Horace, “so we created an anti-bias program within the organization to ensure that we were getting ahead of it and to ensure our security team understood what was expected when they were dealing with members of the public, patients, visitors and staff. We felt like by being proactive, it would professionalize the workforce and would also deal with the questions before they came up.”

As a part of the Mayo Clinic security team’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, the department ensured that hiring and promotion panels were diverse, removed the degree requirement for certain positions on the team, and established a diversity committee that discusses security initiatives through a DEI lens, says Horace.

“We started looking at metrics in terms of who and how we were hiring, and we started monthly trainings on everything from LGBTQ rights to race and gender. When we started talking, listening and acting based off of those conversations, the environment shifted,” Horace says.

After more than four years leading security at Mayo Clinic, Horace sought a new private-sector challenge, this time in the real estate sector. As of this writing, Horace accepted the Chief Security Officer role at Pretium & Progress Residential, a single-family rental platform.

“I look forward to contributing my own unique expertise and insight to the meaningful work Pretium & Progress Residential are doing,” says Horace. “There is a clear vision for their security ambitions that extends far beyond just security into community. This commitment ensures that each step we take together will be focused on safeguarding people and communities.”

That sentiment echoes throughout Horace’s career — from protecting communities during his government career to safeguarding the nation’s elections, protecting patients at Mayo Clinic and now developing the security program at Pretium & Progress Residential, Horace’s impact on national and enterprise security is felt around the globe.