Sarah Stefanski

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Sarah Stefanski

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

As an assistant director at the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO), I oversee budget and policy research for the Housing, Environment, and Infrastructure team. IBO is a non-mayoral city agency that provides nonpartisan information about New York City’s budget and economy to elected officials and the public. I see our role as putting unbiased, data-driven research into the hands of decision makers, so that policy choices can be made with the most information available on their fiscal ramifications and expected outcomes. I love the variety of topics my job lets me become an expert on, ranging from affordable housing tax breaks and the city’s climate resiliency efforts to transit infrastructure financing.

What were you doing before you came to NYU Wagner?

I got my start in government with New York State, working for the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. In this role, I did grant and project management for the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides energy efficiency improvements for low-income housing. Prior to that, I had served in AmeriCorps working in a public high school in Philadelphia. I knew I wanted to make a career in public service from my time with the state, and that I wanted to shift from implementing programs to helping craft and review programs to be more effective and efficient. That was the point at which I decided to go to graduate school

Why did you choose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I was interested in urban economics and city operations, and therefore, the chance to learn about public policy while living in a city grappling with the same questions we were discussing in classes was a real plus. I was impressed with the faculty and pursued the Policy specialization.

How have your experiences at NYU Wagner prepared you for your career?

Specific topics covered in my NYU Wagner classes—such as econometrics, public finance, urban economics, and policy evaluation—trained me with skills and ways of thinking that I use regularly in my current job. Additionally, while at NYU I worked as a graduate research assistant at NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, which gave me the opportunity to hone my skills in data analysis for policy research.