Mercedes is the founder of Young Australians in International Affairs, and was CEO of YAIA for eight and a half years, stepping down in June 2022.
In 2021 she was presented with an Australian Leadership Award by the ADC Forum, and in 2020 was presented with a medal by H.E. General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. She was a finalist in the 2019 Women's Agenda Leadership Awards and in 2018 was named by the Financial Review and Qantas as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence. In 2015 she was recognised by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) as one of Australia's Top 50 Young Social Pioneers.
Mercedes previously worked for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to joining DFAT, she had a number of roles in the private sector and at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She was previously a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow and a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum.
She holds a Master of Arts (International Studies), a Graduate Diploma (International Studies), Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Asian Studies) and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Adelaide. She studied abroad in China and the Netherlands.