CHDS Alum Leverages Master’s Education in Transition from State to Private Industry

After serving for nearly a quarter century as a Maryland State Trooper, Keith McMinn retired from public service and joined the private, non-profit Penn State Health System as Director of Life Lion Services.

Keith McMinn, director of Penn State Health Life Lion Services highlights driver safety laws and urges motorists to put safety first, at the Life Lion Hangar in Hershey, PA, on February 15, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services

While McMinn noted that both positions deal with providing emergency aviation services, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security alum (Master’s Program 1401/1402) described the career transition from state government service to a non-profit, academic health system as an “absolutely wonderful opportunity” while noting how much different the two systems are.

With the Maryland State Police, McMinn oversaw the Aviation Command, a public safety organization that provides around-the-clock airborne delivery of emergency medical transportation, law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment services to the State of Maryland and its citizens, as well as its neighbors, including support for the National Capital Region.

He retired as a Captain at age 50 in September 2020.

With Penn State Health, McMinn directs the Life Lion Emergency Medical Services and Critical Care Transport, which includes a team of more than 400 medical professionals including paramedics, EMTs, nurses, physicians, pilots, dispatchers, and mechanics, and provides several services and programs including emergency or non-emergent transportation to hospitals in south-central Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police join Penn State Health at their Life Lion Hangar to highlight driver safety laws and urge motorists to put safety first, in Hershey, PA, on February 15, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services

Services include 24/7 EMS and 911 response to municipalities throughout the Central Pennsylvania region, serving four Penn State Health hospitals including Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Holy Spirit Medical Center, Hampden Medical Center, and St. Joseph Medical Center, with a fifth hospital under construction, and featuring two helicopter bases.

Programs include: The EMS Community Paramedicine program, the first in the region; EMS Special Operation; Tactical EMS; Special Response Teams; and Critical Care.

Penn State Health, McMinn noted, includes “a lot more stakeholders.”

McMinn, who hails from the region and worked as a hospital paramedic early in his career, said his goal was always to return to the area.

“I’ve now come full circle,” he said, noting that when he left the area Penn State Health included just a single hospital and now it is a rapidly growing health system.

Interior view of the Life Lion aircraft | Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services

In fact, McMinn said his CHDS Master’s education was a key for him in making the transition to a new career, running a new department with a new service line in the midst of a pandemic.

“The things I learned in the [CHDS Master’s] cohort including critical thinking, problem-solving, and networking, allowed me to be successful here,” he said. “I’m so thankful. I retired at age 50 and made the transition to private industry, and I think I still have a lot to offer. [CHDS is] what made the transition possible.”

McMinn noted that he and a fellow CHDS Master’s alum who also joined Penn State Health recently pulled out CHDS professor Rodrigo Nieto Gomez’s instructional materials on the “business canvas model concept,” and he said he is currently using that model in his work.

“I’m so blessed by the opportunity to go to school [at CHDS],” he said. “I’ve heard some have expressed concern that they don’t use the skills we learn there, but that’s not been my experience. The value of a CHDS education can’t be overstated.”

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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