Disabled Women Run: How Disabled Women in Office are Leading in Their Communities

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on July 01, 2022 # Events, Disabled Women Make History

July 12, 2022, 1:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register for this free event online

In honor of the ADA anniversary, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is pleased to announce a collaboration with Disability EmpowHer Network to host "Disabled Women Run," a free webinar featuring extraordinary women living with paralysis who have successfully run for public office, on July 12, 2022. Representative Jennifer Longdon of Arizona and Councilmember Mary Zendejas of Long Beach, CA will discuss the struggles and successes they have experienced running for office and serving in their elected positions. Stephanie Woodward, Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network will be leading this crucial conversation with Kim Beer, Senior Director of Public Policy for the Reeve Foundation.

In July of 2021, Stephanie Woodward, Reeve Foundation blogger and Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, started a monthly blog series called Disabled Women Make History to celebrate the achievements of women with disabilities. The series is based on interviews with passionate, determined, and talented women with paralysis. Both Representative Longdon and Councilmember Zendejas have been featured in this series for the incredible work they've done in their communities and the work they're doing to uplift other disabled women. This webinar will be an extension of the series as we continue to spotlight these women and learn tips from them on how even more women with disabilities can run for office!

Representative Jennifer Longdon

In 2004, Representative Jennifer Longdon, was paralyzed in a random drive-by shooting, changing the trajectory of her life. Before the shooting, Jen was a successful businesswoman and family provider. After the shooting, she struggled to stay afloat, losing her health insurance while lying in a coma and confronting poverty head-on. Upon her recovery, Jen became a force for good in our community. Jen works to raise awareness and improve the lives of people with disabilities and increase opportunities and access for other marginalized groups. She also focuses significant energy on gun violence prevention, spearheading grassroots efforts and advancing policy change at the local, state, and national levels. When a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives opened up in her district in 2018, Jen ran – and won. During her first term, Jen became the first Democrat appointed to chair an Ad Hoc committee in more than 50 years. Upon her 2020 re-election, Jen’s peers elected her to serve as Assistant Leader. In 2021, more Democratic bills were passed into law than in the prior six years combined. Jen is running for re-election in the new LD5 to continue her fight for an Arizona that is equitable and accessible.

Councilwoman Mary Zendejas

Councilwoman Mary Zendejas was elected to represent the 1st District of Long Beach in November of 2019, becoming the first “woman on wheels” of Hispanic heritage elected to public office in the nation. Diagnosed with polio as an infant, Mary’s determined spirit and passion for service and achievement is rooted in the gratitude she feels for the sacrifices her parents made to provide their children a better life. Their encouragement inspired Mary to aim high, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. Mary earned the title Ms. Wheelchair California and has been honored with the American Women’s Business Association’s Diamond in the Sky award, and The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award, just to name a few. Mary has advocated for others since high school, where she organized citizenship fairs to help community members follow their American Dream to become US citizens. She founded the Professional Abilities Association of America, to help working professionals with disabilities, focusing on inclusion in the workforce. Prior to graduating from both the Executive Quick Start program and the Leadership Institute of Leadership Long Beach, she served as a member of City of Long Beach, Mayor Robert Garcia’s Transition Team. As a City Councilmember, Mary has prioritized public health, economic development, crime prevention, affordable housing, addressing homelessness and creating a sustainable future for Long Beach. A true community leader, Mary currently serves as a board member for several local nonprofits and advocacy organizations, including the Murphy Foundation, and as Vice President of Ms. Wheelchair America.

Kim BeerKim Beer, Senior Director of Public Policy, Reeve Foundation, works to advance the Foundation’s legislative and advocacy agenda on Capitol Hill and federal agencies. Kim’s work focuses on increasing awareness of paralysis issues, advocating for federal funding for the National Paralysis Resource Center; and ensuring access to care for those impacted by paralysis. Before joining the Reeve Foundation, Kim served as Director of Public Policy at Susan G. Komen; Director, Advocacy at the Arthritis Foundation; and Assistant Director of Federal Affairs at the American Academy of Physician Assistants. She also worked as Senior Legislative Assistant for Governor Pedro Rosselló, Puerto Rico, and as Legislative Assistant for Congressman Luis G. Fortuño.

Stephanie WoodwardStephanie Woodward is an attorney, activist, and organizer, passionate about Disability Rights and empowering people with disabilities. She is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and women with disabilities to grow, learn, and develop to their highest potential and have the confidence to lead. Her experience in the Disability Community spans from litigating Disability Rights cases, to advising U.S. Senators on disability issues, to leading protests to demand the enforcement, advancement, and protection of Disability Rights laws - and she has an arrest record to show for it. As a proud disabled woman and civil rights activist, Stephanie is committed to bringing more women and girls with disabilities to the forefront through mentoring and activism.

This webinar will be held from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Registration to attend the free presentation is now open.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.