Melissa Bender is a documentary photographer and freelance photojournalist with a medical background, focusing on issues surrounding race, racism, and inequality. She is a contributing photographer to Just Security, an online forum about U.S. national security law and policy. Bender's photograph "Voice" was selected as a winner of the Soho Photo Gallery National Competition 2017, juried by Aline Smithson, and is currently on view in the gallery's group exhibition. Her work has appeared in The New York Times as well as the 2016 "#ICPWeThePeople" exhibit at the International Center of Photography (juried by Alison Morley). Bender's photographs has also been featured on social media by sites including Photograph Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Flak Photo Network, the Women's March, Indivisible Guide, CAIR-NY, Pantsuit Nation, NYC Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, the #girlgaze project, Female Collective, Muslim Women's Alliance, #STORYOFTHESTREET, War Within a Breath, and others.
Bender holds an AB in Government from Harvard College, an MD from Harvard Medical School, and an MPH from the Harvard-Chan School of Public Health. In 2015, after a fifteen-year career in academic medicine and medical education on topics at the intersection of health and poverty, she turned to the study of documentary photography at the International Center of Photography.