We'd like to introduce our newest National Executive Committee (NEC) Members, Juliana Carvalho and Tara Shepherd and to welcome existing Committee Member, Kera Sherwood-O’Regan, to the President Elect role.

Each of the three has taken time out to share a little about themselves – their bios – and what they hope to bring to the National Executive Committee.

Juliana Carvalho

Juliana is a migrant and disability advocate from Brazil and based in Tauranga. She is the Lead Campaigner for Access Matters Aotearoa – calling for robust accessibility legislation – and is a co-founder of the collective Migrants Against the Acceptable Standard of Health Aotearoa (MAASHA), dedicated to ending ableist immigration policies in Aotearoa. Juliana is a best-selling author, speaker, and passionate changemaker. She aims to bring her mana, enthusiasm, media presence and strategic skills to DPA, fast-tracking changes in the narrative around disability and fostering a more equitable country.

Tara Shepherd

Tara, a 21-year-old originating from Westport, is a passionate advocate for change and a dedicated disabled wāhine. Serving as the 2023 and recently re-elected 2024 Co-President of the National Disabled Students Association (NDSA), Tara brings a wealth of lived and governance experience.

From the age of five, Tara has advocated for assistive technology and inclusivity in education and healthcare. As a selected member of NZ Health Group’s Whakapuāwai taskforce and Te Poutāhū Disability Voices Group, she actively contributes to the 2026 curriculum refresh with the Ministry of Education. Tara's commitment extends to environmental causes, with notable achievements such as petitioning for remediation of the Hector legacy landfill in 2019. Additionally, she wrote, initiated, and coordinated the removal of flood-affected waste during a '100-year flood' in 2021, which has since become a template for NEMA.

Currently completing her degree in Dunedin, Tara was elected the 2024 Welfare & Equity officer for the Otago University Students’ Association. Advocacy has been a core pillar to her journey and Tara aims to bring her governance and unique experiences to the DPA NEC to help foster collaboration, amplifying young diverse voices and to achieve practical change within Aotearoa.

Kera Sherwood-O'Regan

Kera Sherwood-O'Regan is a proudly Kāi Tahu and disabled wahine based in Ōtautahi (Christchurch). She has been a member of the DPA National Executive Committee since being co-opted to fill a vacancy in early 2022 and then being formally elected at the 2022 AGM.

During her time on the NEC, Kera has been focused on supporting DPA’s strategic development, enhancing understanding and engagement with Te Ao Māori, and our Chief Executive recruitment.

She is passionate about improving governance processes and strengthening engagement with members, and believes that DPA’s strength comes from its membership and long history of disability rights leadership.

Professionally, Kera is the co-founder and Impact Director at Activate Agency, a social impact agency specialising in Indigenous & Disability rights, and climate justice.

In her spare time, she runs online support group Fibromyalgia Aotearoa NZ, advocates at the United Nations climate negotiations (COPs) with the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change, and The SustainedAbility Disability & Climate Network, and works with her hapū and iwi particularly in Moeraki.

Kera is a Climate Reality Leader, Center for Australian Progress Campaigning Fellow, UNLEASH Innovation Lab 2019 Global Talent, and was recently named in BBC’s 100 Women of 2023 as a “climate pioneer” for her work on Disabled and Indigenous Peoples’ rights in climate change.

Kera says she feels privileged to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from fellow NEC and wider DPA members over the past few years. "I'm looking forward to deepening those relationships moving forward, serving DPA members, and particularly learning from President Joanne Dacombe over the coming year", she says.

DPA National Executive Committee for 2023/2024: Joanne Dacombe (President), Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (President Elect), Jason Boberg, Juliana Carvalho, Oliver (Ollie) Goulden, David King and Tara Shepherd.