Joyce Bender, President and CEO
Living a Crusade
Joyce A. Bender is the founder and CEO of Bender Leadership Academy, a non-profit organization focused on addressing the transition to work for youth and young adults with disabilities. The organization grew out of a request by long-term partners to address the needs of high school students with disabilities entering into the workforce. Starting as a volunteer program in 2000 in the state of DE, Joyce has touched the lives of thousands youth and young adults with disabilities. Building on this community service, Bender Leadership Academy delivers a variety of competency building programs that focus on setting and achieving career journey goals resulting in increased long-term, competitive and integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
In 1985, Joyce experienced a life-threatening accident due to epilepsy. The accident caused a cerebral hemorrhage which required subsequent brain surgery. This accident left Joyce with a 60 percent hearing loss in one ear and a diagnosis of epilepsy. Joining the ranks of more than 60 million Americans with disabilities had a life-altering effect on Joyce.
Over the next decade Joyce would become entrenched in the disability community’s civil rights movement. During this time, she donated her experience as an employment expert in her local community through training, mock interviews and mentoring to help individuals with disabilities prepare for the world of work. With the corporate business connections Joyce had built through her executive search firm, Bender and Associates International Inc., she was able to help bridge the gap between training and employment for IT professionals with disabilities. As a result of these experiences, she developed a passion for helping people with disabilities secure employment, resulting in founding Bender Consulting Services, Inc. in 1995.
Bender Consulting Services, Inc. is a firm that provides disability employment expertise in the areas of recruitment, workplace mentoring, strategic planning, training, and digital accessibility to drive innovation and realize business value for customers. Bender partners with corporations and federal agencies in order to assist them with achieving their diversity and workforce inclusion initiatives across the U.S.
Since founding the company, Joyce has become an internationally recognized leader in disability employment. Sharing the messages of ‘competitive employment means freedom’ and ‘paychecks not pity’, she continues to volunteer time and resources through national and local organizations that provide services to the disability community. Joyce has received numerous recognitions and awards for her service and has become known as a driving force to break down attitudinal employment barriers for people with disabilities on a global scale.
Joyce is the host of “Disability Matters with Joyce Bender,” a weekly internet talk radio show on voiceamerica.com, the leading producer, distributer and online broadcaster of talk radio programming worldwide. Disability Matters is the longest running show on Voice America. The show’s guests include prominent figures in the disability and business communities. She speaks across the United States and internationally as a representative of the State Department on disability employment in Panama, South Korea, Indonesia Japan and Kazakhstan.
- 2018 – Founded Bender Leadership Academy
- 2018 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to Japan on disability employment best practices
- 2018 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to Kazakhstan on disability employment best practices
- 2017 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to South Korea on disability employment best practices
- 2017 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to Indonesia on disability employment best practices
- 2016 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to South Korea on disability employment best practices
- 2016 – Representative for State Department information sharing program to Panama on disability employment best practices
- 2000 – Began offering mentorship to high school students with disabilities, now Bender Leadership Academy
- 1995 – Established Bender Consulting Services
- 1988 – Founded Bender and Associates International, Inc.
- 1979 – Began career as a search consultant
- Awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Geneva College
The subject matter expertise Joyce offers in the area of disability employment by serving private sector and federal employers is sought by numerous national organizations.
Those affiliations include:
- Current Vice Chair, Past Chair, Board of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
- Current Member, Board of Trustees, Bazelon Center
- Former Chair, Board of the National Epilepsy Foundation
- Current Member, Disability Rights Pennsylvania
- Current Member, Board of the Epilepsy Association of Western/Central Pennsylvania
- Current Member, Board of Variety the Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh
- Current Member, Board of Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
- Current Member, Board of Advisors for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund
- Current Member, President’s Advisory Board of Carlow University
- Current Member, National Advisory Group of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf
- Current Member, Board of Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera
- Current Member, Advisory Board of RapidSOS
- Member, 2013 Geneva College Advancement Board
Joyce Bender and Bender Consulting Services have received numerous prestigious awards for their work in the area of disability employment.
Key award highlights include:
- 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award, Volunteers of America
- 2014 Catherine Variety Sheridan Humanitarian Award, Variety the Children’s Charity
- 2013 Justice for All Corporate Award, American Association of People with Disabilities
- 2013 Distinguished Service Award, Geneva College
- 2008 Diamond Award Winner, Pittsburgh Business Times
- 2006 Distinguished Service Award, National Easter Seals
- 2003 New Freedom Initiative Award, Federal Labor Secretary Elaine Choo
- 1999 President’s Award, President Bill Clinton