Our Mission Statement:

Elevating the status of people with disabilities and the issues of the disabled and their families to achieve the highest levels of physical and program access to housing, education, employment, health care, community programs and to address the socio-economic issues of people with disabilities through grass roots advocacy and collaborative efforts with disability rights organizations.


Our Vision Statement:

Women empowering people with disabilities

The California Association of Persons with Handicaps (CAPH) was founded by activist advocates in Long Beach, California in 1974. The need for an organization to be the voice and action on behalf of the disabled was carried by a small but courageous group of people who were tired of the disabled being marginalized.

Empowered by the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the addition in 1973 of the disabled into the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and in 1974 the development of building standards for accessibility in California, CAPH became a 501c3 and a Force for Change. A corporation was later created so that legislative action could take place. The founders of CAPH which became Californians for Disability Rights (CDR) in the mid 1990’s, also founded the International Abilities Exposition which was housed exclusively in Long Beach for 2 decades. Subsequently, what we now refer to as the Abilities Expo swung between Long Beach and Anaheim and in 2007 it was purchased by Lew Shomer and David Korse who currently put on the Abilities Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

CDR’s name may have changed but the mission has never wavered. The Abilities Expo may have changed hands and locations but the mission has never wavered. We all were then and are now A Force for Change.

In 1976, The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant was born in Long Beach at Cal State created by members of CAPH, faculty and staff of Cal State Long Beach. CAPH along with the university saw the creation of the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant at Ohio State, contacted them and California became the 2nd state to see the need to send a state title holder to the national Pageant. Arkansas was first. For 3 straight years, California placed in to the top 5 at the national pageant.

Over the decades, The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant became a powerful voice for women with disability and carried the issues of the constituency using “The Power of the Tiara”. In 2001, Ruthee Goldkorn became the Executive Director, developed the mission statement “The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant carries the issues of women with disAbilities to elected officials, from the local level to the state and statewide public policy makers to ensure equality and equity in accessing health care, housing, education, employment and all public services.” In 2004, the Pageant was incorporated and was granted 501c3 status by the IRS.

For the past 38 years, The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant, Inc. has been continuously presenting the best and the brightest women with disabilities to use “The Power of the Tiara” to affect change in California, for the benefit of the disability community.

Our Staff

  • Cynthia Dejesus – President
  • Ben Rockwell – Vice-President
  • OPEN – Secretary
  • Steven Kendis – Accountant
Board Members:
  • Ruthee Goldkorn –  President Emeritus
  • Larry Madick – Kiwanis Rose Float Club of Pasadena
  • Alisa Shuman – San Diego Chapter President, Californians for Disability Right
[video src="http://mswheelchairca.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MSWCC-opener.mp4" /]