Councilwoman Mary Zendejas was elected to represent the 1st District of Long Beach in November of 2019 becoming the first Latina wheelchair user to be elected to public office in the nation. As an infant, she was diagnosed with Polio, and later in High School started using a wheelchair daily. Her passion for living and working hard is rooted in seeing her parents, a field hand and factory worker, provide their children a better life. Their hard work allowed Mary to go to California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and become the first in her family to graduate from college.
Her advocacy dates back nearly three decades starting in high school, where she organized citizenship fairs to help community members follow their American Dream of becoming US citizens. She is also the founder of the Professional Abilities Association of America, an organization created for working professionals with disabilities by working professionals with disabilities, focusing on inclusion in the workforce. Additionally, she is a two-time graduate of Leadership Long Beach, served as a member of Mayor Robert Garcia’s Transition Team, a former board member of Housing Long Beach, and a past Ms. Wheelchair California.
Currently, Mary is also currently a board member of several local non-profits and advocacy organizations, including the Murphy Foundation Board and is the current President of the Disabled Resource Center. She is also a former member of the Long Beach Transit Board of Directors. During her time at Long Beach Transit, she has led the effort to streamline access and reliability of paratransit services throughout the system and has helped to implement zero-emission buses into the fleet. Mary is also currently a board member of several local non-profits and advocacy organizations, including the Murphy Foundation Board and the Disabled Resource Center.
Mary has been widely recognized and honored throughout her career. She has received several awards including the American Women’s Business Association’s Diamond in the Sky award, The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award, the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) Human Rights Award, Patrick O’Donnell’s “Women of Distinction” Award and The Long Beach Post “40 under 40” Award, to name a few.