As the Director of Government Relations, Melissa Bender advocates to expand and strengthen national service opportunities at the federal and state level. Most recently, Melissa served as a policy advisor and legislative staffer at the Maryland General Assembly, working on education equity, food insecurity and criminal justice reform issues. She previously worked at Ithaka S+R, a higher education policy think tank, and served as an AmeriCorps member with Reading Partners, where she managed a volunteer literacy tutoring program at a DCPS elementary school. She started her career in international development supporting USAID's communications efforts overseas. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor's in Political Science and Russian Studies from the University of Virginia.