About Us

Our goal is to increase long-term competitive employment for youth 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.

Our Story

Bender Leadership Academy is committed to expanding opportunities for employment of people with disabilities from youth through adulthood. Established in 2018, Bender Leadership Academy is founded on over two decades of commitment to serving the disability community. Beginning as a volunteer mentoring program with the single purpose of helping youth transitioning into the workforce, the organization is now multi-faceted with programming that provides a comprehensive approach to addressing barriers to employment.

At Bender Leadership Academy, our vision is to create sustainable programs that can be adopted as a part of national curriculum for educators and community organizations interested in advancing pathways to success for the community of people with disabilities. Our focus is on providing work readiness competencies that focus on the value and abilities each person can contribute to the workforce. Bender Leadership Academy has a well-established network that spans across many sectors, including public, private and non-profit entities. These partnerships allow us to develop curriculum that lead to opportunity for program alumni to participate in and gain real-world, work experiences.

Educate

Creating Work-Readiness

Empower

Work-focused Competencies

Evolve

Work-based Learning

We Will Slaughter Stigma
Leadership
Joyce Bender

Joyce Bender, President and CEO, Chair

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.

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Kelly Kuczinski

Kelly Kuczinski, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer

Kelly Kuczinski is the Chief Financial Officer for Bender Consulting Services, Inc. She joined Bender in 2002 and has held previous positions in the company such as staff accountant and director, finance and administration before assuming her current role. Her areas of responsibilities include all financial areas, such as payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, budgeting, and taxes, as well as managing business insurance. Ms. Kuczinski’s efforts also encompass providing support for contracts, grant proposals and new business development initiatives.

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Lisa Krause

Lisa Krause, Secretary

Lisa Krause has demonstrated experience in application development and production support management. She is a customer focused, service oriented, technology leader with over 30 years of experience in IT, including 19 years in management and has a history of delivering large scale and software optimization solutions. Lisa has a superior understanding of both hospital and physician health care systems, as well as knowledge of insurance audit processes including operational quality performance reviews, fraud investigation and compliance impacts. She is a highly adaptable leader with core competence in relationship management and has a proven track record with execution of day to day operations and staff development.

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Board of Directors

Tinamarie Duff

Tinamarie Duff

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Sam Estes

Sam Estes

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Evan Frazier

Evan Frazier

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Christine Griffin

Christine Griffin

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Photo coming soon

Amy Hawthorne

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Darren Hucko

Darren Hucko

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Jill Manczka

Jill Manczka

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Staff

Scott Hammerstrom

Scott Hammerstrom

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Bonnie Rubin

Bonnie Rubin

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Press Releases

Bender Leadership Academy Awards $3000 in Scholarships to Students with Disabilities

Pittsburgh, PA – January 10, 2021 – Bender Leadership Academy announces annual scholarship for students with disabilities. The Linda Dickerson Scholarship was created by Bender Leadership Academy for students who were positively impacted by attending the Disability Mentoring Day program. The scholarship is in memory of Linda Dickerson, a leader in the disability community who knew independence and employment were the most important goals for young persons with disabilities…

Bender Leadership Academy Awarded $300k Grant

Pittsburgh, PA – July 6, 2020 – Bender Leadership Academy was recently awarded a $300K grant from the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust through the PNC Charitable Trust to support work preparation, skills certification and leadership programming for students with disabilities. Thanks to this grant, Bender Leadership Academy will be able to expand programming for students with disabilities throughout the southwestern Pennsylvania region…