Kuster is using her MAIDP toolkit to bring an economic approach to sexual and reproductive health as Associate on the Global Health Markets Team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Headshot of Anne Kuster
Anne Kuster

“I’ve always been a huge champion of women and girls,” said Anne Kuster, a 2020 alumna of the Master of Arts in International Development (MAIDP) program. “I think women’s empowerment issues represent a huge hole in policy and international development.” That was a gap Kuster planned to help fill by studying policy design and analysis in the MAIDP program. Her hope was to identify policy solutions that would support all women and would be effective across cultures.

Prior to joining Harris, Kuster worked with two organizations in Peru on a Fulbright Research Grant, helping empower teenage mothers through storytelling.

"I was working with young mothers at Casa Mantay and the Universidad Católica Pontificia in Lima, exploring the ethical responsibility of storytelling," Kuster said, "which grapples with a number of questions, including: Should the telling of a story always be delivered by the person who experienced it? Is there a moral or ethical responsibility for stories to be told if they could help others more broadly?"

Kuster continued, “The government of Peru, for example, could have really benefited from understanding how the girls at Casa Mantay ended up there. It’s not always as simple as not having reproductive health education or not having support following an assault. Personally, I think it’s important for women to reflect upon and tell their stories, but I needed to know what they thought. The women at Casa Mantay hadn’t always had control over their own lives; it was essential they had control over their own stories.”

Kuster’s interest in Peru and Latin American culture started at a young age. Kuster’s grandmother, who spoke Spanish fluently, inspired Kuster to pursue her own learning of the language throughout high school and college. During her first semester of college at Notre Dame, she felt transformed by a Spanish class titled “Andean Culture,” which led to her first trip to Peru. 

“The class was all about the Andes and the unique problems that people face here, particularly the indigenous populations,” Kuster explained. “Because of that class, I decided to come to Peru, to Cusco specifically, after my freshman year. That was my first introduction to Casa Mantay and the challenges facing young women, particularly teen mothers, such as abuse, incest, extreme poverty, and a machismo culture.”

Inspired by that work, and wanting to expand her impact, Kuster joined Harris in 2019. Reflecting back on her MAIDP experience, Kuster says the people truly made the program. “My experience was marked by the connections I made in the program,” she said. “They all brought different perspectives to our class discussions and daily conversations, and I find myself approaching some of the problems I face in my work now with mindsets I think they might have.”

Since completing the MAIDP, Kuster has been working as an Associate on the Global Health Markets Team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative. “I do a lot of consulting work,” she said. “I do a lot of market forecasting, research, and pricing analyses, specifically in lower income countries. We take a very economic approach to sexual and reproductive health.”

“Harris taught me to apply an appropriate level of complexity to policy problems,” Kuster said. “It’s helped me complicate things just enough so that I am forced to consider the implications of certain strategies and decisions. And part of the complications always involve imperfect data, which I think Harris did a good job of emulating in our coursework. We were always forced to work within the parameters of incomplete information, which is how it works in the real world. It all made us bring an additional level of thoughtfulness to the work, and I think it has really benefited me.”