Be Empowered

For Students with disabilities

Honoring Mary Brougher

July 2, 1964 – August 10, 2021

  • It is with great sadness and love that we remember the life and contributions of Mary Brougher, a founding board member of the Bender Leadership Academy.
  • Mary’s leadership and guidance have been a driving force for innovation and program development within our organization.
  • Moreover, Mary’s kindness has touched the hearts of all who worked with and knew her.
  • Prior to her death, Mary was a part of a new initiative designed to build resiliency, coping strategies, and advocacy for youth with disabilities. Learn more about the Mary Brougher Mental Health Initiative and how you can support this important work.
  • We would like to thank everyone who has made a donation in memoriam of Mary. We are overwhelmed by your generosity.

Prepare for Your Future

At the Bender Leadership Academy, you can build the critical skills and competencies to transition from school to work, meet the expectations of employers, and develop a long-term career path.

We are dedicated to supporting successful paths to employment for all people with disabilities.


We deliver competency building programs that enable students with disabilities to engage in work opportunities, celebrate successes, and achieve career goals.


Together, we can have positive impact on the future of students with disabilities by providing the steppingstones for success.


Empower Others

For Companies & Communities

Make a Difference

At the Bender Leadership Academy, you can impact the future of today’s youth with disabilities by engaging in mentorship, career development, leadership training, and civic engagement opportunities.

Bender Leadership Academy has been serving high-school students with disabilities, since 2001. We accomplish the mission of competency-based workforce development and are dedicated to supporting successful paths to employment for all people with disabilities.


The Bender Leadership Academy delivers competency building programs that enable students with disabilities to engage in educational, empowerment and work opportunities, celebrate successes, and set and achieve career journey goals.


Bender Leadership Academy programs address the development of general employment competencies, the lack of experience barrier to employment of people with disabilities and raises the marketability of participants through building career competencies while gaining work experience.


Celebrate Success

For students and partners

Achieve Career Goals

At the Bender Leadership Academy, we believe that success starts with opportunity and is achieved when we support our students in developing competencies and applying innovative solutions.

Our strategies for success include developing work readiness skills, building leaders, and providing work-based experiences.


We value the partnerships we have developed with our communities, educators, employers, volunteers, and mentors.


Our approach is to create a continuum of learning and definitive path to success within an environment that focuses on ability.

The transition from youth to adulthood is challenging for almost every young person and this is particularly true for young people with disabilities. Part of a successful future includes finding and keeping employment. There continues to be a dilemma facing youth with disabilities. In spite of supportive legislation (e.g., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act) and effective practices, many of these youth continue to experience high unemployment as well as insufficient opportunities to obtain competitive employment with the potential of career growth.
Guideposts for Success, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability