By Tina Pappas
for Montclair Local

Matthew Frankel is on a mission to help people redefine their career paths.

Frankel has an impressive resume as a media and crisis strategist for over 20 years. He is a former Capitol Hill press secretary working for House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow, The Democratic Leadership Council and a variety of national and local political and advocacy campaigns across the country. He has also worked in corporate communications for 15 years in New York City for a series of high profile entertainment and technology companies in the country, including AMC Networks and AOL.

The Montclair native is now setting out to help people with their career paths, not in a predictable direction,but by daring them to put their dreams to practical use.

Frankel runs MDF Strategies, a reputation management and strategic communications firm based in Montclair. He also is an avid volunteer, with one of his initiatives a family resource center in the United Way of Northern New Jersey in Montclair. For the past five years, as a volunteer career coach, he has worked with adults either looking for a change or with a dire need to leave their job immediately.

“I enjoy providing that kind of support, and the career coaching is an impactful and meaningful way for me to spend my time,” he said.

Last year, he expanded his career coaching to young adults with the Advanced Leaders Program at Bloomfield College. Leveraging his business contacts, he has invited the professionals he has met over the years to do the same.

“Bringing those who have been successful in their careers to explain what they do for a living and the kind of qualities people who hold those jobs need to possess has an impact on the students,” Frankel said. “It might bring up career options they never thought about before.”

The students are connecting with the visiting lecturer series.

“We’ve been having career seminars for awhile and we usually had our own faculty giving the discussions, and it was very effective,” said Dr. Patrick Lamy, vice president for Student Affairs, dean of students. “However, I feel the exposure of professionals outside of the campus was a wonderful opportunity to bring in a diverse group of people. Many of our students are first generation college students. So, to have presenters that may also have been first timers as well, or that have similar backgrounds to those of the students, is a great way that they can make a connection.”

A recent guest speaker was Jonathan Simon, executive director of the Advancing Black Leaders team at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a Montclair native. Joshua Cohen, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office, also spoke.

Frankel asked Simon and Cohen about some of the factors they felt that helped them succeed. Simon spoke to attendees about what he felt it takes to achieve in any field during the discussion.

“One of the things is that you’ve got to build credibility in whatever you decide to do. You have to pay your dues in any field and be being able to demonstrate to people that you really want it and you have well intentions. I’ve surrounded myself with people that have a shared ambition, that can motivate you and inspire you and keep you pushing forward. It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Simon tells the students.

He advises the students to pursue interests outside of their job, such as volunteering with non-profit and in their community.

The message: the best way to create a network is by giving back to a community.

”I feel most of us in the professional environment feel an importance of paying it forward. By bringing people together and making connections is an important part of that process. I have been very lucky to connect with some of the very best people in national politics, the corporate world, and great leaders in this state. There are so many people who want to contribute,” Frankel said, about future speakers.

In facilitating the seminar, Frankel said he is “simply bringing people together” and by doing that, already started the students on a networking path.