One of the strengths of the Puuya Foundation, and a key feature of the Puuya Approach is ensuring that all our initiatives are community led.

The majority of our Board members are leaders from the community. This helps to ensure that everything we do meets community needs.

We are also mindful that the expertise and/or resources we need to support and achieve community driven objectives will sometimes need to come from outside the community.

To this end the majority of Board members are local indigenous members,with the remaining positions comprising individuals with highly developed skill sets valuable to the strategic management of the organisation who have shown a passion and commitment to our mission.

Dorothy Hobson


Dorothy, or Dottie as she is known in community, is a proud Kuuku Ya’u woman. She is a Councillor in the Lockhart River Shire Council, having formerly held the role of Community Development Director, leading the team that won the Queensland Smart Women, Smart State Award in 2008. She has more than 10 years experience as a Councillor for Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council and was Chair of the Council from 1994-97. She is President of the Lockhart River Mother’s Union and previously a Board member of Apunipima Cape York Health Council. Dottie is the Chairperson of the Kwandja Wimpa Dance Team, renowned for their performances at the Laura Dance Festival.

Dottie participated in the National Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program and completed her Diploma in Community Development in 2008. She inspires others in the community and believes “As a leader, you have to be a strong person, you have to talk for the whole community not just for yourself or your own family, you have to be a role model and also be a fun person”. She believes that old people, young people and women can all be leaders in the community. She has 3 children, of whom she is very proud. Dottie is also an artist and designed the Puuya Foundation logo.

Jim Varghese

Deputy Chair

Jim is the owner and Chair of The Leadership Company Qld Pty Ltd which specialises in leadership and organisational transformation. He was CEO, Springfield Land Corporation from 2008-2012 and is now an Independent Director of the company. Jim has over 30 years experience in the Australian public sector in leading multifaceted government agencies covering transport, education, training, employment and primary industries. As a Director-General, Jim has successfully driven and implemented the Queensland Government’s Smart State reform agenda in Main Roads, Education, Training, Employment and Primary Industries and Fisheries. Jim was also Government Champion for Lockhart River and sponsored much innovation there, including Learning Circles.

Jim has a professional and passionate interest in service delivery and best practice management and is the creator of the award winning “Three Learning Frames” management approach, which aligns outcomes with congruent relationships, structures, systems and capabilities.

Jim was recognised in the 2009 Australian Government Honours’ List with the Member of the Order of Australia for service to public administration in Queensland through the development of policy reform and implementation, and to the community. Jim was awarded the Centenary Medal for services to the Public Sector in 2001.

Denise Hagan

Founder and Director

Denise is Founderof the Puuya Foundation, is an Accredited Company Director and also has her own consultancy business. Over the past 30 years, she has led the development of a large number of successful, integrated people development strategies for organizations and communities. She has worked in 8 Queensland State Government departments, in many as a senior executive responsible for community engagement, organization change, performance and planning, leadership and people development. She has worked in Cape York for the past 12 years. Denise lived and worked at the grass roots, to trial innovative ways to build human and social capital in Lockhart River Aboriginal Community. Her leadership and innovative work achieves sustainable results and has been recognised by numerous Government and community awards. Denise’s commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation is only matched by her personal vision to lead people to recognise their own gifts and strength of spirit in building their “best life”.

Veronica Piva


Veronica Piva is a Councillor on the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council for the second time. Previously she was Home and Community Care Coordinator in Lockhart River, caring for the elderly, sick and disadvantaged, both during work hours and as a volunteer after hours. She is a very active member of St James Anglican Church. She is Deputy Chair of the Walpamu Community Justice Group, and works closely with community members and the Police on justice and human rights issues. As a JP Magistrate, she sits on the local Murri Court. She is passionate about ensuring that the concerns of those who don’t have a voice are heard. Veronica made a special contribution to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence Report (2000), Chaired by Associate Professor Bonnie Robertson, QUT. Veronica is an active and inspirational leader in the women’s group and Mother’s Union, assisting women of all ages to learn about their rights, continue to learn and to take responsibility for improving themselves and their community. Her generosity of spirit shines through in the time, financial contribution and love that she affords to those in need. Veronica is a great life long learner.

Wayne Butcher


Wayne was born and bred in Lockhart River. Wayne is the newly elected Mayor of Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council. Wayne has said he was grateful to the community for “putting their faith in me”. “I think the community clearly stated who they wanted to be their leader. As the new Mayor of Lockhart River, Wayne like the other councillors has taken on council portfolios. He has taken on Leadership and Governance, as well as Youth, Sports and Recreation. Wayne has previously specialised in Community Development, so that is an area he also wants to work with the community on. Wayne is passionate about his new role as a Director of the Puuya Foundation and sees close linkages between the purpose of the Puuya Foundation and the Council. He believes that to go forward you need people who can lead from the front and at the same time empower people along the way. Education is a key priority and Wayne is committed to developing young leaders of the future.

Marian Pettit


Marian Pettit manages a network of over 60 local community organisations across Australia to deliver the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s flagship early learning and parenting – Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) in 100 communities. Marian has over 30 years’ experience working in social policy and delivering services in government. Marian has also worked with Cape York indigenous communities and has lived for a time in the Lockhart River.

She has a degree in applied science and a diploma in public management.

Jason Cooling


Jason has over 15 years’ experience in finance and accounting roles.  He currently works within Westpac’s business bank supporting clients in several industries achieve their strategic objectives.  Jason holds an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s degree in finance from QUT.  Jason is passionate about helping the Puuya Foundation meet the needs of the Lockhart River community for today and into the future

Paul Piva

Strategic Advisor to the Board

Paul Piva is a Lockhart River community member and the Strategic Community Advisor to the Puuya Foundation.  Paul previously held the position of Councillor with the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council from 2016 – 2020.  As a local community business owner, Paul is passionate about building the next generation of leaders through education, to take on the economic opportunities being created by today’s leadership.