Director of City Practice
Samer has 14 years of experience helping over 50 cities become more inclusive of migrant, displaced, and marginalized people. As the lead urban technical advisor at the International Rescue Committee, Samer worked directly with the cities of Amman, Athens, Milan, and Kampala, among others, to implement and institutionalize inclusive projects, policies, and plans within city government structures. Samer has produced countless knowledge products, publications, and practitioner resources and has fundraised tens of millions of USD to deliver programs in the cities most adversely impacted by migration, displacement, and conflict. These initiatives include area-based approaches to conflict and displacement in Maiduguri, multi-year programs to support the self-reliance of urban refugees in urban East Africa, peacebuilding programs between warring cities in Libya, and inclusive resilience strategies in several of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities.
A respected practitioner in the space, Samer has also played a key role in shifting power in humanitarian response from international to local actors. As Director of City Practice of the Mayors Migration Council (MMC), Samer oversees MMC’s suite of technical assistance programming that supports city leaders in designing and implementing local policies, plans, and projects that address the needs of refugees and migrants. A key aspect of this direct support is identifying and unlocking technical and financial resources for cities from international humanitarian and development actors. In managing the MMC’s Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees, Samer grew the fund from a $1M seed investment to a $7.5M+ fund with a pipeline of over 25 city grantees directly supporting 25,000+ people across three thematic chapters.
Before working on migration and humanitarian issues, Samer served for seven years as an urban planner, directly working with at-risk communities in bolstering the resilience of New York City and cities throughout the Northeast United States. A Boston son of Lebanese immigrant parents, Samer has a BA in Urban Studies from Boston University, a Master of Urban Planning from NYU Wagner School of Public Service and is currently a PhD student at The New School.