Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin McGuire.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kevin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was struck by an intoxicated driver in 1968 (at the ag of seven) while playing baseball. The driver was drunk, drove off the road onto the front yard where I was playing…I just did not have time to get out of the way.
Originally, I was paralyzed from the neck down, but after extensive physical therapy, I regained the use of my arms, hands, fingers…my upper body.
Although I was injured in the dark ages of disability rights, I was mainstreamed into a “regular” classroom setting before there was even a concept of mainstreaming. I was not placed into “Special Ed”; which is a scary thought because Special Ed was much different in 1968…It is not like what happens today. Had I been placed in Special Ed, I would have graduated from high school in 1979 with a degree that would have not prepared me for college…the future.
I did my undergraduate work at Boston University. While at BU, I interned/worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was dorm president for two years and student body president my senior year.
I then went to law school at Georgetown (Georgetown University Law Center (“GULC”)). While at Georgetown, I worked for Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr. on the Hill.
After law school, I pursued an acting career and landed principal roles in “Born on the Fourth of July” and daytime television dramas such as “Guiding Light”, “Another World”, and “As The World Turns”. I was also a consultant for the movie “Gattaca”.
When I first started my firm, used family contacts to obtain jobs with local school districts and municipalities which were all under specific Americans with Disabilities Act “ADA mandates with very specific time tables. I worked for over 70 municipalities in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
I was then hired by the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, then the BSO/Boston Pops both in reactive situations. Was then hired by, what was then called the Shawmut, now the TD Garden where the Boston Bruins and Celtics play. That job took me nationally and began working for many of the professional sporting venues, theatres, rock concert properties and large real estate projects around the country.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has been curvy. I always tell people you don’t always take a straight line to where you want to go. There are always obstacles. I was fortunate to have tough parents who continually pushed me hard at a very young life. But they instilled values, too, regarding hard work.
My accident/disability forced me to be sensitive towards others less fortunate at a very young age. Pre-ADA, there were too many times where I had to take a freight elevator with garbage to enter/exit a building, where I was asked to leave a store because the owner/manager considered my wheelchair a fire hazard, where I was denied access to school buses to attend school-related events, where people uttered completely insensitive/rude words to me. Although things have changed, we still have a long way to go.
McGuire Associates – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I either work in proactive situations where a client will hire me in schematic design to ensure the architects and interior designers are complying with the ADA and local building codes.
Tend to work on high-profile projects so I interact with the local disability community, advocates as well as governmental agencies to ensure they all know what the project entails and to hear if they have specific concerns, and if they would like specific items included in the design, and later operation of the venue.
I also work in reactive situations where either the Department of Justice (DOJ) has initiated an investigation against the building design/operational policy (ies) or an individual has filed a lawsuit against the owner. My job then becomes “Michael Clayton-like” where my job is to determine if there is a problem with the high-profile project, fix it, to make the problem go away as quickly as possible.
Not certain of another consulting firm owned by a person with a disability which has a client list like mine. Although I have been fortunate, I worked hard to succeed. This success has enabled me to work with the leading architects in the world: Frank Gehry, Lord Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Cesar Pelli/Pelli Partners, Mosdie Safdie, etc.
Although there are other firms which assist with the design of buildings from an ADA or Fair Housing perspectives, there is no other firm which has developed ADA/FHA Best Practices like my firm or produced Disability-related Emergency Evacuation Videos (produced by NFL Films) and a Disability-related Customer Service Training Video for frontline staff.
It makes me feel good when knowing children with disabilities access the venues I work on and are included in the most inclusive environments. Environments which did not exist when I was a child with a disability.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success by setting goals, do your best to achieve them. To admit defeat when something does not go as planned…but to never give up on setting goals…to never settle.