Foundation Management

We have a team of highly-qualified, dedicated individuals who bring a breadth and depth of experience to the Foundation.


Phyllis Costanza

Phyllis Costanza was appointed CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation in June 2011. Prior to this, she was Director of Leverage at the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), a UK-based non-profit philanthropic organization focused on improving the lives of children living in poverty in developing countries. She also served as a CIFF board member for eight years.

Prior to CIFF, Ms Costanza worked for 10 years as a management consultant advising clients in both health care and non-profit arenas. She also worked in the public sector as the Manhattan Representative for New York State Governor Mario Cuomo, advising on policy and politics in Manhattan.

Ms Costanza received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Miami University (Ohio).

Nina Hoppe

Nina Hoppe joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in July 2012 as Deputy CEO. For 10 years, Nina has been working for UBS in Zurich in different positions including Risk and Business Management, Relationship Management and Investor Relations. Prior to this she worked for 5 years in London as an analyst in the M&A Department as well as an Associate in a small Private Equity boutique. She holds a dual German-French Masters degree in Business Administration from ESCP Europe. Nina speaks several languages including German, English, French and Spanish.

Grant-making team

Ann-Marie Sevcsik

Ann-Marie Sevcsik is a Program Director at the UBS Optimus Foundation in the field of health. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in biomedical research, with the past 10 years engaged in research, development, and access issues related to bringing relevant health tools to improve the health of vulnerable populations worldwide. Prior to joining the UBS Optimus Foundation, Ann-Marie worked at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative which develops and makes available new treatments for neglected diseases, including the first anti-malarial treatment by a public-private partnership. Educated at Harvard and the University of California, San Francisco, she has worked with a wide range of organizations – including the World Health Organization, multinational pharmaceuticals like GSK Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, biotechnology companies like Amgen and Chiron, and patient advocacy organizations – and on projects in more than 15 countries including Argentina, Brazil, DR Congo, Egypt, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia and Spain.

Charles Gardner

Dr. Charles A. Gardner is a Program Director at the UBS Optimus Foundation in the field of health. He has 20 years’ experience in investment, strategic planning and program management in the field of global health. Charles has worked previously as Head of Research & Programs in the Global Forum for Health Research, Senior Advisor to the World Health Organization, Associate Director for Health Equity in the Rockefeller Foundation, and Science Attaché at the US Embassy in New Delhi, India. He has also taught health care ethics as an Assistant Professor at Howard University and served as an Adjunct Scientist with the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He contributed to over 80 publications and worked in many countries including Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa. After completing his Ph.D. in Cell, Developmental and Neurobiology from the University of Michigan in 1991, Charles was awarded a Congressional Science Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and subsequently served as a Committee Staff Member in the United States Congress.

Reinhard Fichtl

Reinhard Fichtl joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in May 2009 as Program Director in the fields of education and protection. Prior to his current role he was an aid worker for more than two decades in East Africa and South Asia. He began as a development worker in Ethiopia during the late 1980s, then worked for a reintegration program of ex-combatants of the former EPLF in Eritrea in the mid-1990s. He then spent the next five years as a program coordinator in Zambia to promote the formation of rural women's networks. Later, he managed education programs for children in the conflict zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, in the brothels of Sonagachi in Kolkata, and in the war zones of Sri Lanka. As an educational sociologist he focuses on providing opportunities for marginalized people, especially women and children.

Maya Ziswiler

Maya Ziswiler is Program Director in the field of education. She joined the Foundation from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria where she was responsible for managing public-private partnerships such as (RED) or the MAC AIDS Fund to provide treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS and malaria programs in Africa and the Caribbean.  Previously, Maya worked for UNICEF in Peru, building partnerships to support early childhood development programs there.  She also brings valuable project management experience from Procter & Gamble in the Middle East and non-profit consulting experience from China.  Maya holds degrees in International Development from McGill University in Canada, and an MBA from the University of Geneva.  She speaks English, French, Spanish, German and some Mandarin.

Patricia Lannen

Patricia Lannen is a Program Director in the field of child protection. Prior to working with UBS Optimus Foundation, she worked with children and adults on issues of psychosocial oncology at the Harvard Medical School's Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She has extensive experience in the coordination of large, multi-site projects with vulnerable populations. These projects have included epidemiological research as well as intervention and prevention aims. Since joining the UBS Optimus Foundation in 2008, she has coordinated the Foundation's global Optimus Study on child sexual victimization. This large initiative aims to prevent incidences of and improve services for sexually abused children in different countries across the globe. She is also responsible for a variety of other evidence-based violence prevention programs in Switzerland and internationally. Patricia holds a PhD in Psychology.

Ingeborg Andrews

Ingeborg Andrews joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in March 2013 as a Business Analyst. Between 2007 and 2013 she led several projects regarding global competitors, diversity, talent, performance and rewards in UBS (Zurich) and Deutsche Bank (London). Prior to her work in the banking industry, she worked for the Population Council in Lima, Peru, where she specialized in social research, particularly in the area of health and domestic violence. She became the Project Manager of a methodologically-complex study involving urban, semi-urban and rural areas of Peru aimed at improving the quality of care in health centres. She is a social psychologist with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Business operations

Karin Schumacher

Karin Schumacher joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in 2002. She’s a proven expert in foundation management with more than 10 years of experience in the whole range of our Foundation’s activities - be it in the financial, legal, accountability or governance sector. Today Karin takes the role of the Foundation‘s Business Manager. Prior to UBS Optimus Foundation Karin worked for over a decade in several different departments and positions at UBS. Karin has a Swiss federal Diploma in business administration, a Swiss federal certification in pension fund management and holds a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Non-profit Management & Law (CEPS). She speaks several languages including German, English, French and Italian.

Manuel Pilla

Manuel Pilla joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in 2009 as a Program Associate. Prior to joining the Foundation, Manuel successfully completed his traineeship at UBS. He is currently working part-time at the UBS Optimus Foundation. Besides working, Manuel is studying at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences to achieve a Bachelor of Science with a major in Banking and Finance. He speaks several languages including French, Italian and Portuguese.

Pierre-Guillaume Kopp

Pierre-Guillaume Kopp joined the UBS Optimus Foundation from the corporate communications department of a Swiss private bank. He has worked in the communications industry for several years and gained further experience in the corporate media relations department of an aeronautical company in Germany. Pierre-Guillaume studied Political Science, Modern History and International Law in Zurich and in Munich. He obtained a PhD in Political Science from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich in 2011.

Hong Kong Branch

Wei Wei

Wei Wei joined the UBS Optimus Foundation in January 2013 as the Director of Asia. Prior to his current role, he was an aid worker for more than two decades in East Africa and South Asia. Wei has more than 10 years of experience in poverty alleviation and child development. Wei served as the National Director of Right To Play China, the Program Director of Plan China and a Senior Program Officer of Pact. Wei has tremendous experience in organizational development, strategic planning, program management and fundraising. Wei managed programs in education, health, sanitation, community development and micro-finance. Wei holds a BA in Economics and a BA in Classics from Stanford University.

Mario Knoepfel

Mario Knoepfel is based in Hong Kong and joined UBS Optimus Foundation as a Business Manager in early 2013 to facilitate the build-up of the foundation's Hong Kong branch. Prior to joining UBS Optimus Foundation, he worked for the wealth management business of UBS in different positions since 2001 and brings five years of experience in business management functions with strong know-how in establishing structures and processes for new businesses and an extensive network within UBS. By covering Eastern European clients for more than three years, he gained an in-depth understanding of the needs of clients and client advisors. Mario holds a bachelor degree in Business Administration from Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland.