MEET MATHYLDE FRONTUS
Mathylde Frontus has lived in Coney Island for over 30 years and is a well-known community leader and advocate. She grew up in a working class family as the eldest child of Caribbean immigrant parents who moved to Coney Island to purchase their first home.
Mathylde is mostly known for her role as the founder and leader of three organizations in Coney Island and as being the architect of various programs in her neighborhood which have positively impacted hundreds of individuals, youth and families.
From 2004-2016, Mathylde served as the founder and executive director of Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS), a grass-roots multi-service agency providing a range of services to the community such as financial literacy, veterans services, health education, LGBTQ resources, legal assistance, college prep (ie: free SAT classes and college campus tours), reentry services for the formerly incarcerated, job and housing assistance, mental health services and the summer youth leadership academy.
While running UNS, Mathylde continued her role as a community organizer and founded two multi-stakeholder coalitions to address gun violence in the Coney Island community. In December 2009 she created the Coney Island Coalition against Violence and was elected as its co-chair. From 2009-2011, the coalition (consisting of local residents, businesses, schools, clergy, and elected officials) created a calendar of monthly anti-violence events to raise awareness in the community about the harmful effects of gun violence. In June 2010, Mathylde organized a protest in response to a 2-year-old girl who was shot in the leg while playing in front of her building.
In December 2013, Mathylde once again held an emergency meeting to address two fatal shootings in the community. It was at this meeting held at her agency where she pitched the idea for the creation of The Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative. Mathylde served as the founder and acting chair of the Collaborative from 2013-2015, during which time she wrote the proposals to obtain seed funding from Fund for the City of New York and Senator Diane Savino, who allocated $250k to the organization to help support its various programs. From 2015-2017, Mathylde served on the steering committee of the organization.
Mathylde has also served as a consultant to other organizations such as the YWCA of NYC and HeartShare Human Services to lend her expertise in youth leadership and adolescent mental health. She spent several hours working directly with students inside of various southern Brooklyn schools including P.S. 329, P.S. 288 and Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, as well as J.H.S. 259 in Bay Ridge. She also spent several years on the Community Advisory Board at Coney Island Hospital and served as the secretary of the 60th Precinct Community Council.
Mathylde received her Bachelor’s degree of Social Work (BSW) and Masters of Social Work (MSW) from NYU. She also received a Master of Arts in Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. In May 2015, Mathylde received her Ph.D. from the Columbia University School of Social Work where she specialized in Social Policy & Administration. For her dissertation, she researched the mental health needs of the African American community and the role of clergy.
Mathylde currently operates two small consulting firms. Avant-Garde Consulting provides strategic planning and capacity building to neighborhood institutions and nonprofit organizations. Avant-Garde Behavioral Health Services offers consulting to mental health agencies. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the NYU Silver School of Social Work where she teaches a new course she designed: advocacy & social justice. Mathylde remains involved in the community and runs a book club at the Coney Island Public Library to promote reading and literacy.