As an infant, Mary Zendejas was stricken by polio. In high school she started to use a wheelchair. Whenever challenges or barriers presented themselves, Mary tackles them, motivated by her tenacity for life and her role models, her parents. Mary is a proud California State University, Long Beach Alumni, where she obtained her B.A. in Communication Studies. The first in her family to become a college graduate, she serves as role model for her family and community.
In 2012, Mary was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California. She used her platform to promote personal independence for people with disabilities. She advocated for self-advocacy, higher education, and quality employment opportunities for the disabled community throughout the state of California.
Mary’s passion for developing a stronger and more integrated disability community led her to becoming the founder of Professional Abilities association of America, an organization created for working professionals with disabilities by working professionals with disabilities, focusing on inclusion in the workforce. She now serves as the organization’s Executive Director.
Mary, servers as a Board Director for Long Beach Transit, a leading company in the transportation industry. She is also Ms. Wheelchair America’s Vice President and their National Independent Delegate Coordinator.
Mary has developed and is implementing a mentoring program in partnership with California State University, Long Beach, The Long Beach Unified School District, and the Murphy Family Foundation. The program is MAPS 2 College. To assist students special needs, in the transition from high school to colleges, in the hopes of transforming them into successful college students and ultimately college graduates, through mentoring. As well as providing self-empowerment through life fulfillment activities while promoting independence and a quality lifestyle.
In addition Mary is a powerful and inspirational Speaker and has presented for well over 5000 people in various private and public sectors throughout the state of California.
Mary has been honored with the following awards: The American Business Women’s Association, 2017 Diamond in the Sky Award. The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) 2016 Gene Lentzner, Human Relations Award, Disabled Resource Center 2015 Civic Leadership Award, Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) 2015 Human Rights Award, The Robert Schlesinger “Making A Difference 2015 Award, The Patrick O’Donnell 2015 “Women of Distinction” Award and The Long Beach Post “40 under 40” 2013 Award.
Mary is an extraordinary woman who immerses herself in her passion for empowering people with disabilities by highlighting their ABILITIES. Her joyous love for life is contagious. Mary Zendejas is truly a Long Beach Pillar and an iconic person not only for the disABILITY community but rather throughout the city of Long Beach.