Theresa “Terry” Conejo, BSN, RN, FAHA, a nurse at Mercy Health System’s Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia, was named the American Heart Association’s 2015 National Volunteer Advocate of the Year, according to a news release. She was presented with the award during the AHA’s Lobby Day Luncheon on May 11 in Washington, D.C.
The AHA recognized Conejo for her work as a community advocate, including her efforts testifying before lawmakers and serving as a grassroots mobilizer on important issues and legislation vital to AHA advocacy goals. She has been an healthcare advocate and AHA volunteer for many years, and she serves on the organization’s Pennsylvania advocacy committee and frequently meets with legislators at the state and federal level to promote heart health initiatives, according to the release.
One of Conejo’s main focuses currently is AHA’s fight for a comprehensive smoke-free law for Pennsylvania. In recent months, she has contributed op-ed pieces about proposed smoke-free legislation to major news outlets across the state, and also is advocating for the proposed Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act, according to the release. In her local community, she pushed for Bensalem Township to ban smoking in its community parks.
“Being able to help people and contribute to the community is my passion and what drives me,” Conejo said in the release. “Through my passion and commitment, I hope to inspire others to take action and help improve their health, well-being and quality of life.”
“Not only is Terry volunteering her time and efforts to the community, she is educating them on how to lead healthier lives and giving them the resources to get started,” Nancy Cherone, MHA, FACHE, executive director at Nazareth Hospital, said in the release. “We are extremely proud of her continued devotion and dedication to the health of others. Terry truly exemplifies the spirit of advocacy and volunteerism that we should all strive.”
Conejo’s involvement with the AHA/ASA began eight years ago when she became a volunteer advocate for the AHA/ASA. She was recognized in 2009 with the AHA/ASA Distinguished Achievement Award and again in 2014 with the Go Red Por Tu Corazon Ambassador Award. Her contributions to the organization have included service on various committees, boards and community fundraising events. In February, she was named an AHA/ASA Fellow in recognition of her scientific and professional accomplishments, volunteer leadership and service, according to the release.