Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Professional Studies Award Recipients

Leadership Excellence Award


Wauwatosa, Wis.

“Igniting the spirit and skills of leaders.” It’s what Karen Vernal does.

As president of Vernal Management Consultants LLC, Karen and her team work with leaders to build vibrant, results-oriented organizations through executive coaching, leadership and team development, strategic planning, and leadership/organizational retreats. Clients report that working with Karen and her team accelerates leadership competencies, which ultimately impacts business success.

“I consider our work a sacred privilege,” says Karen, who was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling, W.V., for 14 years before her marriage to John Waldbauer. “It is not work for me. It is my vocation.”

Vernal Management Consultants counts as clients Marquette, ASQ, the Green Bay Packers, Harley-Davidson, Robert W. Baird, Rockwell Automation and Aurora Healthcare, among many others.

Says client Paul Borawski, CEO of the American Society for Quality: “There is a lot being said these days about the benefits of executive coaching. It would be a mistake to simply classify Karen as a coach. I — we — have all been beneficiaries of her miracles, both large and small.”

In 2003, Karen was named a “Woman of Influence” by the Milwaukee Business Journal. She was also recognized by the Packers for guiding their organizational planning process for six years. She has served on the faculties of Marquette and West Virginia Wesleyan and volunteers with many community and nonprofit agencies. She is a member of the Advisory Council for the College of Professional Studies and a resource for many university leaders.

Karen’s formula for success? “Live your life to the fullest with integrity and intention,” she says. And in the words of a Buddhist monk: “Do what you can because you can. Do it with joy!”

Fun fact: Even as young as grade school, Karen knew her passion for serving others: “I wanted to be a Sister of St. Joseph. I recognized, even at a young age, that these were women who were making a difference, and I wanted to make a difference. Life has opened many unexpected doors for that dream to become a reality!”