AAPD Board Member Joyce Bender Represents US and Disability Community on Trip to South Korea

May 24, 2016 | Zach Baldwin, Director of Outreach

Last month, AAPD Board Member and President of Bender Consulting Services, Joyce Bender, was invited by the State Department to represent the United States in South Korea, as the leading expert on the employment of people with disabilities. The trip ran from April 16, 2016 through April 23, 2016. During that time, Joyce shared her disability employment expertise with academic institutions, government officials, private sector businesses, advocates, and individuals with disabilities.

As a Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur, Joyce has aligned over 1,000 people with disabilities with career opportunities and has developed expertise through her volunteer efforts serving on the boards of both the national Epilepsy Foundation and AAPD.

“We are thrilled to hear that Joyce’s message of freedom through competitive employment will be shared both in Seoul, as well as in South Korea’s rural areas,” said Helena Berger, President & CEO of AAPD. “As an AAPD board member and catalyst for change, Joyce’s leadership will help to increase equal opportunity and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities in South Korea.”

During her time in South Korea, Joyce wrote several blogs detailing her experiences. Below are some brief summaries of Joyce’s blogs with links to the full blog.


Sunday, April 17th – Travelling to South Korea

“Saturday morning, Mary Brougher, Chief Operating Officer, of Bender Consulting Services, Inc., and I left Pittsburgh for a State Department trip to Seoul, South Korea. Even as I am blogging this, I cannot believe what an honor and wonderful opportunity this is for me; a chance to make a difference in the world for the quality of life for people with disabilities in South Korea is hard to fathom.  This trip is a result of outreach from the embassy in South Korea to the U.S. State Department requesting someone with a specialization in the employment of people with disabilities come and share best practices.”


Monday, April 18th – Seoul (and Daegu)

“I spoke to about 150 students about the employment of people with disabilities and provided examples of success stories like the Honorable Tony Coelho, U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth, and Temple Grandin.  It was all about inclusion, empowerment, and no pity. The students asked good questions and were very interested in the discussion.”


Tuesday, April 19th – Deagu and Changwon

“Tuesday was a great day, because I was with my people – people with disabilities from the Center for Independent Living (CIL).  Although they have additional progress to make, they are modeling their activities on the United States disability community and our Centers for Independent Living.  It is thrilling to see the birth of this movement in South Korea.”


Wednesday, April 20th – Korean Day of the Disabled in Seoul

“I think, for personal reasons, Wednesday will always be the most memorable day on this visit to Seoul, South Korea. Today was the Korean Day of the Disabled! I was so excited to be in South Korea for this celebration! It started with an arranged meeting at the beautiful U.S. Embassy.  What a great honor it was to visit the American Embassy!”


Thursday, April 21st – Seoul

“When the day ended, I just could not believe all the people I met on this visit and all of the productive meetings we had.  It was so exciting to spend time with my new Korean friends and see the hope in their eyes when we discussed employment. After all, employment means freedom—freedom to live like everyone else—the dream in America and in South Korea.”


As president and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, Inc., Joyce collaborates with the public and private sectors to assist them in hiring people with disabilities for competitive careers. She advises these organizations on all aspects of disability inclusion strategy and practices. In addition, Joyce hosts a weekly radio show, Disability Matters on www.voice.voiceamerica.com, every Tuesday, focusing on issues related to the employment and empowerment of people with disabilities. For more information on Bender Consulting Services, Inc., visit www.benderconsult.com.


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The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

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