Sternberg was born and grew up in Meriden, Connecticut, close to where she still lives and works. In both her commercial art and portraiture, New England has always been a favorite subject. She was trained at the Yale School of Fine Arts, graduating in 1942 with a preference for working in egg tempera. During World War II Sternberg made portrait sketches of convalescing servicemen and in 1961 she was commissioned to paint a portrait of President Dwight Eisenhower. Her later work, highly detailed scenes of idyllic American farmsteads and towns, has been extensively reproduced for calendars and for the American Artists Group "Christmas card" series.
William H. Truettner and Roger B. Stein, editors, with contributions by Dona Brown, Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Judith K. Maxwell, Stephen Nissenbaum, Bruce Robertson, Roger B. Stein, and William H. Truettner Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory (Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn; and London: National Museum of American Art with Yale University Press, 1999)