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LifeWings Safety Leadership Team

Steve Harden

Steve is the President of LifeWings Partners LLC – a team of physicians, nurses, lean experts, and pilots that have helped over 220 healthcare organizations in the U.S. and abroad implement the best safety practices from aviation and other high reliability industries. He is the author, or contributing author, of three books on patient safety. Results of his patient safety work have appeared in over 50 publications and news outlets.

Mr. Harden has been involved in safety training for over 20 years, producing over 40 separate training programs for commercial aviation, military flight squadrons, heavy construction, military contractors, and healthcare. He is a certified TeamSTEPPS™ Master Trainer and has personally trained over 20,000 physicians, nurses, staff and administrators in the last 13 years.

Steve is a dynamic presenter. His interactive presentations have been enjoyed by audiences at annual conferences conducted by AORN, The Joint Commission, American College of Surgeons, American Hospital Association, Society for Thoracic Surgeons, AmSECT, and many state hospital associations and QIOs.


A professional pilot with over 40 years of experience, Steve recently retired as a captain for a major international airline. His expertise in the field of aviation safety training has garnered him seven awards for superior performance and Quality Achievement. He also conducted workshops for the University of Southern California’s School of Aviation Safety


Steve is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He accumulated over 300 aircraft carrier landings during service with the U.S. Navy and was selected to be an instructor pilot at the Navy’s elite Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).  He holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating and Type ratings in B-727, B-737, and MD-11 aircraft and has served as an FAA certified flight examiner. 

Steve Montague
Executive Vice President

Steve Montague serves as the Executive Vice President for LifeWings and merges over 30 years experience in aviation with 10 years of training experience in healthcare. Captain Montague is an engaging facilitator and TeamSTEPPSTM Master Trainer with deep expertise in the design and implementation of teamwork-based patient safety programs. He has provided program implementation for over 45 institutions including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Rush University Health Center, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Ohio State University Medical Center, and UCLA.


Prior to joining LifeWings, Mr. Montague was a Naval Aviator and served as a fighter pilot, flight instructor, course developer, procurement consultant, and Program Model Manager at the U.S. Navy’s Landing Signal Officer School. He has over 15,000 flight hours and more than 350 carrier landings. Mr. Montague currently serves as a Captain and First Officer for a major international airline.  He has an Airline Transport Pilot rating and is qualified in the MD80, B757, B767, DC10, and MD11.


Captain Montague is an internationally sought after keynote speaker whose most recent engagements include the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare, the Karolinska Institute, and the Western Graduate Education Association.


Mr. Montague graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, and has earned a Master of Science degree in Human Factors and System Safety.

Karl von Kessel
Senior Vice President

Korky von Kessel is the Senior Vice President for LifeWings and brings 25 years of experience in aviation leadership and safety processes to his ten years of experience as a TeamSTEPPS™ Master Trainer in healthcare. A dedicated facilitator with a vast amount of experience in teamwork-based patient safety programs, Korky has led CRM/TeamSTEPPS program implementations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of New Mexico Hospitals, Westchester Medical Center, Miami Children’s Hospital, Vassar Brothers, and University of Texas Medical Branch, just to name a few.


A retired Colonel and former Air Force Command Pilot, Mr. von Kessel has logged over 3000 flight hours in fighter aircraft. Mr. von Kessel has flown the F-4, A-7, F-16 and F-15E. Additionally, he was one of the very first pilots to ever fly the top secret F-117 stealth fighter. A Desert Storm veteran with over 300 combat sorties, Mr. von Kessel has commanded at all levels in the United States Air Force. He served as the Director of Operations for NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center and is a founding member of US Northern Command staff. Mr. von Kessel was also a Senior Fellow in the National Defense Fellowship program.


Mr. von Kessel graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He also has a Masters of Business Administration from Embry Riddle University. Additionally, Mr. von Kessel is a certified Colorado Master Gardener and an award-winning amateur wine maker.

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