Who we are

Board & CEO

Sera Bray

Chair of the Board

Regional Director at Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics NT

Sera is an Arrernte woman from Central Australia with extensive experience working in diverse and strategically complex environments.

Sera has held senior national management roles developing strategies and implementation plans to achieve social, economic and cultural outcomes. Sera was particularly proud to lead the Indigenous participation on the multibillion-dollar INPEX project in Darwin whilst working for Leighton Contractors, where over forty million dollars of contracts awarded to local Aboriginal businesses generated one of the most successful employment and social outcomes for the Northern Territory.

Sera was previously with the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Infrastructure Planning & Logistics as the Regional Director for its critical infrastructure housing program, before her most recent appointment as Senior Director First Nations for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery.

Responsible for developing strong links between industry, sector and community, she has dedicated her life and career to helping ensure the betterment of Aboriginal people and thriving sustainable communities.

Chris Fry

Board Director

Chris brings extensive governance and executive experience to the DKA Board. Chris has been involved with a number of regional boards and was CEO of Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) from 2011 to 2016. He joined IBA after a working with the National Australia Bank for over 25 years in regional and urban roles.

Chris has a longstanding interest and involvement in Indigenous affairs. He was Chair of the Indigenous Land Corporation’s Mossman Gorge Development Steering Committee and an inaugural board member of the Indigenous Tourism Leadership Group. He has also completed a secondment with the Miriuwung Gajerrong Corporation in Kununurra.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics from the University of New England and a Masters of Applied Finance from Charles Sturt University, is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Banking and Finance and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

Vanessa Elliott

Board Director

Gary Powell

Board Director

Senior Advisor at NPY Women’s Council

Mr Powell is a Director of Desert Knowledge Australia. He is also Senior Advisor, Empowered Communities (National), covering the NPY region and the other nine Empowered Communities regions around the country. Gary is based in Alice Springs.

Gary was a Senior Executive in the Australian Public Service, including the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, and Employment, Education and Workplace Relations and Department of Education, Science and Training working on major national policy and program initiatives in Indigenous affairs, education and international development.

Gary was a senior manager in aged care, youth affairs, housing, employment, rural and Indigenous health in a range of Australian and ACT Government agencies. Gary has a high achieving history in the community or non-government sectors and various boards, prior to his public sector and Indigenous organisations’ experience.

Gary is partnered, has three adult children and four fun grandchildren, is into gardening, politics and communities, archery, yoga, gym, running and walking.

Chris Croker

Board Director

Managing Director at Impact Investment Partners

Chris is a descendant of the Luritja people of the Central Desert. A mining engineer and senior business executive, he is the Managing Director of Impact Investment Partners, a specialist investment manager that applies social impact principles to large-scale investments to improve social and economic outcomes for Indigenous communities.

Dr. Patricia Miller AO

Board Director

Dawn Ross

Board Director

Lecturer in Indigenous Health at Flinders University

Dawn was born in Alice Springs of Arrernte/Kaytetye decent. She is married with, four children and five grandchildren.

She attended school in Alice Springs and in 2001, Dawn received her Bachelor of Arts, Aboriginal Studies, at the University of South Australia and worked with various Aboriginal organisations, including Batchelor Institute, in the Faculty of Health Business and Science as the Family Wellbeing Co-ordinator/Lecturer. She also worked at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, with Link-Up, searching for families of Stolen Generation.

Dawn was heavily involved in the delivery (and participation) of the FaHCSIA Indigenous Women’s leadership Program that was provided to many Aboriginal women, nationally, to develop skills in leadership.

Dawn has recently retired from Flinders University as a Lecturer in the College of Medicine and Public Health.

Mandy Taylor

Board Director

Director of Strategic Engagement and Communications at SNAICC

Mandy is a strategic engagement and communications professional with experience across the political, non-government and private sectors.

She has delivered high-level strategic advice to State and Territory Ministers, Federal Ministers and CEOs, leading to reforms across multiple sectors. She has led campaigns and delivered strategies that influenced national policies and driven progressive change in the First Nations, remote economic development, and community development sectors.

Mandy is an experienced facilitator, holding qualifications in engagement from IAP2 Australia. She holds a BA in politics and journalism, and qualifications in training, business and writing. She has previously worked as a journalist and presented a current affairs program on ABC Radio for many years.

Mandy is currently the Director of Strategic Engagement and Communications with SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, a national First Nations peak body. She also runs a boutique strategic communications consultancy.

Graeme Smith

Board Director

Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation

Graeme Smith is a local Arrernte man from Mparntwe Alice Springs, of the Irlpme Estate Group. Graeme has maintained strong connections to country, community and culture throughout his life. In January 2021, Graeme was appointed CEO of the Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, and is also a member of the associated Irlpme Estate Group.

From 2010, Graeme was the founding CEO of the Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation in the Barkly and Tennant Creek, until moving home to Alice Springs in 2019. He has worked with the Central Land Council (13 years), and Northern Land Council (5 years), and has been on many boards as either Chairperson or Board Member, such as the Institute for Aboriginal Development, CAAMA Radio, Imparja TV, and as delegate of CLC.

Graeme has strong interests in Aboriginal self-determination, community and economic development as well as building the capacity of local Aboriginal groups to realise their potential, goals and aspirations in creating a better safer and stronger future for themselves and their people.

Jimmy Cocking

Chief Executive Officer

Desert Knowledge Australia

Jimmy has lived in Mparntwe Alice Springs since 2008. He was CEO of the Arid Lands Environment Centre from 2008-2021, Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation 2018-2021, Alice Springs Town Councillor 2017-2022, and Mayoral candidate in both 2017 and 2021, before joining DKA as its CEO in 2022.

Jimmy is passionate about the desert country and the people who call it home. He recently worked as a consultant for Northern Possibilities with a focus on water, climate and supporting the viability of desert communities.