Meet a TReNDS Expert: Samantha Custer

Written by TReNDS Staff

In the Meet TReNDS series, we introduce you to TReNDS' experts, staff, and friends–leading individuals and organizations in the broader data for development community.



TReNDS expert Samantha Custer, Director of Policy Analysis, AidData and Professional Faculty, College of William & Mary

About Samantha

Samantha leads AidData’s efforts to produce rigorous analysis of official finance investments worldwide, conduct performance assessments of the development cooperation activities of governments and international organizations, and field surveys to learn from the experiences of decision-makers regarding the impact of external money and ideas on domestic policy reforms. Previously, Samantha co-authored World Bank studies on open data and citizen feedback, advised governments and international organizations on language and education policy with SIL International, coordinated the advocacy efforts of the Asia Multilingual Education Working Group for UNESCO, and taught a class on National Security with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She holds an MS in Foreign Service and an MA in Public Policy from Georgetown University.


TReNDS Staff: In your career, what area of data for development have you primarily focused on?
Samantha Custer: Financing for development with a particular emphasis on emerging donors and disaggregated data by geography, demography, and objective; also the use of data and evidence in policymaking

What emerging area of data for development are you most eager to tackle in your own work?
Innovating new approaches to quantify local demand for data and development, as well as the reach and influence of various external and domestic development partners

What emerging area of data for development are you most eager to see addressed by the community at large?
Leveraging new technologies and methodologies to produce hyper-local, disaggregated measures that connect resourcing to results for development

What are you most eager to engage in with TReNDS?
I love the idea of engaging with smart people across disciplines that are eager to push the boundaries of how we collect, produce, and use data for development. I look forward to having my thinking stretched for how I can continually innovate in my own work, as well as contribute from my own experience to increase the reach and impact of the TReNDS network writ large.