Andreas Hipple, Executive Director
Andreas Hipple directs Better Way Foundation’s global efforts to advance early childhood development, working closely with the foundation’s partners and board of directors to help strengthen the systems that nurture and support young children and their families. Before becoming Better Way Foundation’s first executive director in 2018, Andreas served from 2011 through 2017 as a senior advisor to both Better Way and its sister foundation, GHR Foundation. At GHR, he led the Inter-Religious Action initiative, a ground-breaking effort to advance partnerships between religious actors and secular institutions in the international development and peacebuilding fields, improve the evidence base for inter-religious collaboration and strengthen social cohesion in plural societies. In partnership with USAID and the Peace & Security Funders Group, Andreas co-created a unique public-private partnership supporting inter-religious peace building in the Central African Republic. Prior to joining GHR and Better Way, Andreas was the director of programs for the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, where he directed a multi-million dollar program that mobilized more than 20,000 Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Nigeria to teach their congregations about malaria prevention and treatment. He has also consulted on international development, evaluation and program design for a wide range of government, NGO and corporate clients. Andreas was a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin for two years and began his career as an analyst for an investment consultancy in Minneapolis. Andreas earned a master’s degree in international relations with honors from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he is working to complete a doctorate. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College.
Mercedes Plendl, Program Manager
Mercedes Plendl joined Better Way Foundation as the foundation administrator in 2014. Mercedes manages foundation administration, communications, evaluation and learning and the grants process. She serves as the contact person for operations in collaboration with GHR Foundation support staff. She is currently pursuing a Master in Public Policy degree at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota with a focus on non-profit leadership and management. Prior to joining Better Way, Mercedes worked in Uijeongbu, South Korea developing curriculum, supporting organizational administration and teaching at the Sogang Language Program. Plendl earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and theater arts from the University of Minnesota, during which time she worked and studied abroad in London and Berlin.