Empower Autism

Our Board

Dr Lance (Ned) Le ray – Chair

Masters of Public Health
Fellow of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Fellow of Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators

Dr Lance (Ned) Le Ray worked as a General Practitioner in Mackay, North Queensland for 14 years.

Since 1998, he has worked in the public hospital system in the Northern Territory, NSW and Queensland in Director of Medical Services roles or Executive Director positions. He is currently employed as a Clinical Advisor in the COVID Emergency Operations Centre of Metro North Hospital and Health Service.

Ned is married to Bernadine and have a family of 4 adult children and 3 grandchildren.  Their late son Damien had ASD-2 and they are familiar with the challenges and rewards of raising a family member with ASD into adulthood.

Ned believes in social justice and enjoys working in the areas of disability and disadvantage.

Warren Murnane – Treasurer

Diploma of Technical Analysis
Diploma of Share Trading and Investment
Certified Financial Technician
Justice of the Peace (NSW)

Warren has extensive experience in small business, finance and company management. This includes directorship of multiple companies over 30 years.

Warren is the current National President of the Australian Technical Analysts Association. This is a NFP association of over 400 members Australia wide with Chapters in most states.  Warren has continued in this role for over 4 years initiating various educational courses and serving on the governance and ethics committee.

At the age of 48, Warren was diagnosed as an Aspie. After a period of self-reflection and developing a broader understanding of the Asperger Syndrome, he discovered an empathy for and had a need to assist other people on the Autism Spectrum. This is the reason Warren joined the board of Empower Autism to passionately and actively support those of us who are neurodiverse.

Jim Haywood

Jim Haywood – Secretary

Jim is a highly regarded Consultant, Coach, Facilitator, Mentor, and Change Leader in the Human Service sector. With nearly three decades of experience, he has established himself as a creative thinker and influential figure in the disability sector at both Statewide and National levels. Jim has led ground-breaking projects, demonstrating his ability to engage communities, motivate teams, and drive positive change.

As a leader at the forefront of Human Services, Jim continues to challenge and inspire individuals, teams, and organizations. He is dedicated to supporting the next generation of leaders in designing, developing, and delivering creative and individualized quality responses for vulnerable Australians. His special interests lie in building community capacity, supporting young people with disabilities in transitioning to an ordinary life post-school, and cultivating the next generation of thought leaders in the disability sector.

Beyond his professional pursuits Jim is a camper, photographer, traveller, and an avid sunrise greeter.

Alisa Cork


Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies & Public Relations)
IAP2 Certificate of Engagement

Specialising in marketing, communications, and community engagement, Alisa has worked across a broad range of industries within the community, commercial and government sectors, advocating in areas such as disability, health,  education, and the environment.

Prior to becoming General Manager-Communications & Education at True Relationships & Reproductive Health, Alisa assisted NFP organisations during the introduction of the NDIS. A member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and the International Association of Public Participation, Alisa is keen to lend her professional and personal experiences to support people with Autism to reach their full potential.

Alisa is committed to sustainability, ethical practices, and diversity and inclusion. She is passionate about health and wellbeing and fostering a positive culture across Empower Autism as an organisation.

Dr Chris Edwards - Director

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education
Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Honours in Psychology)
Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)
Bachelor of Business (Management)

Chris is a Postdoctoral Researcher with Autism Spectrum Australia and Adjunct Research Fellow with the Menzies Health Institute Queensland (Griffith University) as part of the Inclusive Futures beacon. Chris is also an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR). Chris is autistic, and has been supporting the autistic community for over nine years through various roles. These roles have been in special education settings, as a disability support worker, positive behaviour support and research-focused positions. Chris’ PhD was completed through the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) in 2019. 

His PhD thesis explored how teleconsultation could help provide professional development and support for school staff in rural and remote regions, supporting autistic children with complex needs. He has published and presented at conferences in areas related to education and autism in adulthood. Chris’ current research projects are all autism specific, connected to education, mental health and adult experiences

Mel Maddox - Director

Masters in Health

Mel is an autistic speech pathologist, working in private practice using a neuroaffirmative approach to support her clients to achieve their communication goals. Mel places a big emphasis on empowering her clients to embrace and be proud of their autistic identity.

Mel is also undertaking her Masters in Mental Health, with a particular interest in supporting those with complex communication needs to access adequate mental health support.

Mel is passionate about the importance of autistic representation, to show autistic children and young people that having an autism diagnosis doesn’t have to hold them back.

Casey Archbald - Director

Master of Business Administration

Bachelor of Social Science (Human Services)
Owner / President Management Program, Harvard Business School

Casey is a social entrepreneur with twenty years experience in the human services sector, notably co-founding and serving as Chief Executive Officer of Safe Places for Children.  He is experienced in strategy, risk, finance, operations, governance, and service delivery in complex regulatory environments. 

Casey has a Bachelor of Social Science in Human Services specialising in Services to Young People and a Master of Business Administration, both from Queensland University of Technology.  Casey is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School, having completed the forty-third Owner/President Management Program (OPM).

Casey is proudly Autistic.  

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