Patient Advocate, Community Outreach Manager
Conner Mertens is a patient advocate and community outreach manager. His direct daily contact with patients supports CreakyJoints’ mission to understand and support our community. His work supports the 50-State Network of advocates, helping people with chronic disease share their story to their family, community, elected and appointed leaders. He provides our community members with tools and training to effectively advocate for positive change. Conner interned for the Minority House Leader at the Oregon State Legislature, worked closely with legislators in Washington State passing mental health and suicide prevention laws, and was an intern at CNN New York, working in production and research for Anderson Cooper 360. In 2014, he was the first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football player to come out publicly about his sexuality. He traveled the country speaking at high schools and universities, corporations, festivals and in state legislatures on topics such as anti-bullying, suicide-prevention, mental health, activism in sports and LGBTQ issues. Some past speaking engagements include the South by Southwest film festival, Toronto Film Festival and Nike. He has served on boards for the Trevor Project, The You Can Play Project, the Sports Equality Foundation and the New Rochelle, NY, Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Board. Currently, he holds a board position as the communications director of the Hudson Valley Stonewall Democrats. In 2014, Conner was awarded the “Hero of the Year” distinction from Outsports and also earned Queerty’s 2018 “Up & Coming” award. Conner graduated from Willamette University in Oregon with a B.A. in Politics in 2017, and was featured on its website for his success in LGBT issues, politics and at GHLF.