Nicole Conley Awarded Legacy Award

Congratulations to our own, Nicole Conley, Managing Director for being awarded the Legacy Award in 2022 Best CFO Awards. Read more below!



Best CFOs: Nicole Conley wins Legacy Award

From financing education to educating finance, this business leader delivers the goods

Editor's note: This story is about the Legacy Award winner in the 2022 Best CFO Awards. To read about the other award winners, go here.


When asked for a single word to describe Nicole Conley, former Austin mayor Kirk Watson doesn’t hesitate.


“Success,” he says with conviction, “but not only her success — she fosters success in others. Nicole is one of those people who have that rare combination: she’s smart, she’s a good communicator and she has the ability to teach people. So that really lifts everybody up.”


It's likely no accident that Watson cites teaching as one of Conley’s many gifts. Although she left two years ago to head up Austin operations for investment banking firm Siebert Williams Shank, the contributions Conley made as chief financial officer of Austin Independent School District are legendary.


In the summer of 2017, tensions were high. Longtime residents were being priced out of their homes in the urban core due to skyrocketing home values, so it was clear that a tax rate hike would be a dealbreaker. Many in Austin were skeptical that the school district’s proposed $1.1 billion bond package would pass. The size alone was historic.


Yet it did, and looking back, many still credit Conley with the win — pointing to her remarkable ability to gain public trust. Watson recalls a time when Conley was a standout participant on a panel of experts he moderated during his time as state senator.


“She steals the show, but not in a negative way,” he opines, “but she really has a way of clearly communicating very difficult points.”


As celebrated as she was in her public-facing role as AISD’s CFO, Conley said today she’s content making deals behind the scenes at Siebert Williams Shank, where many of her clients are familiar faces in K-12 education seeking funding.


“I know the needs of school districts,” she asserts. “I know the financing and property taxation systems — all the things that inform our work and allow me to communicate better with our investors who want to support infrastructure, whether in K-12 or municipal. Obviously, this has led to me being able to do this work in a more effective way.”


The nature of her current job aside, Conley makes a point that she’ll never be too far removed from conversations about education. As a single mother tasked with raising two young Black men, the challenges ahead in her personal life are clear — especially in a city that is not exactly a paragon of racial diversity.


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Read the full article here.

Stacey Alexander Evans

Contributing Writer, Austin Business Journal

July 18, 2022