Austin ISD CFO Nicole Conley joins Siebert Williams Shank

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Nicole Conley, chief financial officer for the Austin Independent School District, will join Siebert Williams Shank as managing director for infrastructure and public finance in Texas.

Nicole Conley, managing director at Siebert Williams Shank

At AISD, Conley managed a $3 billion budget and capital program for the 80,000-student, 129-school district. She will run the firm’s new Austin office, helping to oversee infrastructure financing in Texas, particularly the urgent need of relieving school overcrowding, the firm said.

Under Conley, the district passed a $1.1 billion bond package, the largest in the history of Central Texas, without raising the tax rate.

Prior to AISD, Conley served as deputy chief financial officer for the Atlanta Public Schools, where she led the finance and purchasing departments, oversaw all investment and borrowing decisions and accounting functions, as well as other responsibilities.

Earlier in her career, she was the director of strategic sourcing for the New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school system, with 1.1 million students. She helped coordinate that system’s annual $11 billion budget request, directed a successful procurement strategy that resulted in $65 million in annual savings and served as lead agency negotiator on all project directives with departmental executives and the mayor’s office.

She was the budget director for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and the director of resource allocation and management for the District of Columbia Public Schools, where she was responsible for the development, execution and management of the district’s $2 billion operating and capital budget.

In 2018, Conley was appointed by the Texas speaker of the House to serve on the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, whose work culminated in an $11.6 billion investment in public education and property tax relief.

“Texas is a market that has continued to grow for us and the need for further investment in critical infrastructure is as strong as ever,” said Gary Hall, SWS partner and head of investment banking. “One of the key issues in Texas is school overcrowding and Nicole’s deep knowledge and experience in education systems across the country will provide enormous value in driving solutions for students, faculty and taxpayers all over the state.”

SWS managing director and head of SWS’ Texas public finance team Keith Richard said the firm is headed toward a record year in 2020.

“Our firm has enjoyed enormous success this year in Texas, even as the pandemic has forced changes,” Richard said. “Despite these challenges, we have been able to deliver unprecedented financial and economic results to our clients and drive the kind of key investments in infrastructure that the people of this state need. With Nicole on board, our footprint in this market will grow, particularly when it comes to the crucial issue of school renovation and construction, which districts across the state urgently need.”

Conley earned a master's degree in urban affairs from the Robert J. Milano School of Finance Policy, Management, and Environment at the New School in New York City and a certificate of public finance from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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