joann sternke leader coach


Senior Director and Leader Coach

JoAnn Sternke currently serves as a Senior Leader and Coach at Studer Education, a division of Studer Group. JoAnn enjoys helping organizations “get better at getting better.” With the goal of making the complex simple, she serves partners throughout the country implementing Evidence-Based LeadershipSM practices to attain better outcomes. JoAnn specializes in working with partners who are applying the Baldrige Performance Excellence framework in their organizations and those who are in the Baldrige application process.

Prior to joining the Studer Education team, JoAnn led as Superintendent of Schools in Pewaukee School District, a district serving approximately 3000+ students just west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 2013, JoAnn led the Pewaukee School District (PSD) to be honored with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Under her leadership, student achievement increased dramatically. Despite having one of the most rigorous graduation requirements in the state, PSD achieved a 97% graduation rate. Additionally, the percentage of students attending a two- or four-year college increased from 68% to 93% over an eight-year span. For seven years, the Pewaukee School District has been one of few education institutions to be recognized as a Top Workplace by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was recognized as Pewaukee’s Person of the Year in 2014 and Wisconsin’s Superintendent of the Year for 2013. She was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence in 2010. In 2019, JoAnn was honored with the Harry Hertz Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals whose behaviors provide a role model for others.

Dr. Sternke earned her doctoral degree at Cardinal Stritch University where she also serves as a professor in the doctoral/superintendent licensure program.  Dr. Sternke’s dissertation focused on the Jim Collins’ work Good to Great.

I am most proud of the Pewaukee School District being a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. This is robust excellence framework that provided a focus to our work in Pewaukee. To put it in context, this is a high presidential honor few organizations achieve,” says JoAnn about her most rewarding achievements. “Over time, I have enjoyed teaching people throughout our county and around the world how the Baldrige framework can enhance their results. And I know firsthand that by combining this framework with our Studer Education principles and benchmarked survey data, you can truly pursue excellence more systematically. That’s my true passion – helping leaders make the pursuit of excellence more intentional.


Ph.D. Leadership, Learning and Services | Cardinal Stritch University
M.Ed. Educational Leadership | Cardinal Stritch University
B.A. Communication, Education | Marquette University
Superintendent Certification | Marquette University


Leadership and Learning Keynote Speaker, Leadership Development, Continuous Improvement, Strategic Planning, Employee Engagement, Performance Improvement, K12 Leadership, Organizational Culture


Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence, Evidence-Based Leadership, Nine Principles for Organizational Excellence


Joined Studer Education
Superintendent of Schools
0 YRS+
Adjunct Professor
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Instructional Coordinator


Cascading Communication
AASA School Administrator Magazine, Mar. 2019

Freedom within Fences
AASA School Administrator Magazine, Aug. 2014


Pewaukee School District Awards

  • Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (2013)
  • Award for Use of Data | Public Policy Forum (2014)
  • Top Workplace | Milwaukee Journal Sentinal (2010-2017)

Personal Awards

  • Hary Hertz Leadership Award | Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program (2019)
  • Citizen of the Year | Pewaukee Chamber of Commerce (2014)
  • Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year |  American Association of School Administrators (2013)
  • Woman of Influence | Milwaukee Business Journal (2010)

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