College of Education and Human Development

Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

Katie Pekel

  • Executive Director of Educational Leadership

Katie Pekel

Areas of interest

School and System Improvement 
System Thinking 
Leadership Development 
Culturally Responsive School Leadership 
College and Career Readiness 
Grading and Reporting



As the Executive Director of Educational Leadership, Dr. Pekel serves as the department’s direct connection between the fields of research and practice in PK-12 education. She leads the Minnesota Principals Academy, the University’s executive development program for school leaders that leads toward doctoral work Dr. Pekel also teaches courses for aspiring school principals and co-coordinates the Executive Ph.D. cohort for educational leaders within the department of Organizational Leadership, and co-directs the U of M’s Urban Leadership Academy. 

Dr. Pekel has also worked with the University’s College Readiness Consortium guiding school principals and leadership teams from over 150 schools across the state on their implementation of Ramp-Up to Readiness™, the University’s school-wide college readiness program for students in grades 6-12. She has coordinated two federal research studies at the University through the American Institutes of Research studying Ramp-Up to Readiness™ in approximately 75 schools. Dr. Pekel has served at all levels of K-12 education first as a high school English teacher, as an elementary principal and most recently as a middle school principal for six years in Austin, MN.

Dr. Pekel believes that schools are the unit of change. She sees our role at the University of Minnesota as supporting Scholarly Leaders in understanding not only the instructional and management systems within schools, but how their school can be a positive and influential factor in the larger educational system in which they reside.

Courses Taught

  • 8104 - Systems Thinking in Education and Culture
  • 8011 -Doctoral Research Seminar
  • 5501 - Principles and Methods of Evaluation
  • 5321 - Principal as Leader of High Performing Schools
  • 5388 - Leadership for Masterful Scheduling

Professional Affiliations

  • Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Minnesota Elementary Principals Association
  • Minnesota Association of School Administrators
  • National Institute of School Leadership
  • Reviewer, International Literacy Association Standards
  • Affiliate, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement