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The New York Education Finance Advocate (NYEFA) website is a resource for information about the New York City Public School budget. This is the home for informative and thought-provoking posts written by a former education system insider, an analyst, and a public-school parent.

About the Author

Yolanda Clemons Smith first began a career in public finance as a blue-sky paralegal in the law firm of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. After a few years of paralegal experience Yolanda obtained a Master of Science degree in public policy at the New School for Social Research located in Greenwich Village. She incubated her policy development acumen while participating in the New School’s highly touted “Lab in Issue Analysis”. Following her graduation, she accepted a position with Standard & Poor’s as a municipal bond rating analyst where she became an Associate Director. While working at S&P Yolanda dedicated her energy to monitoring bond ratings that were considered high yield, non-investment grade. During her tenure she was also able to assign S&P’s highest rating, AAA, to Chesterfield County, Virginia.

Despite a rewarding career in public finance, six years later Yolanda decided to use her other talents and interests to become an entrepreneur. After starting a fledgling professional development business, she was quickly hired to work for the Department of Education in New York City.

Yolanda started as a budget operations professional but also became a categorical programs specialist before moving on to become a team leader in the Regional Operations Center covering school districts in Brooklyn. For another six years she guided school personnel through the New York City education budget process.

Motivated by desire to combine policy analysis with DOE budget expertise, Yolanda accepted a job offer with the New York City Independent Budget Office. While employed at IBO she provided data and analysis of the multi-billion dollar education budget. Today she continues to monitor, question, discuss, highlight, and sometimes critique the financial performance of the largest school system in America.

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