BY JOE MARVILLI
If you assembled a list of those who have helped the Queens community, Mary Ann Mattone’s name would be near the top.
Mattone has committed her life to helping others in her community, participating in numerous endeavors meant to assist those who need it the most. With an extended family of seven children and 27 grandchildren, she considers her family, heritage and faith to be the vital factors that have helped her accomplish so much.
Mattone was born in 1948 as Mary Ann Pessolano. Even at a young age, she pursued educational topics that would let her help others. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Marymount College, followed by a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University in January 1995.
“To follow in the footsteps of my mother and father, who always helped others,” Mattone said about her educational and early career choices. “My mother said that is the best way I can help.”’
After a stint teaching English to the Officers of the Iranian Air Force, she became the research coordinator for neuroendocrine studies in depression for Dr. Edward Sachar, the chairman of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. When Sachar was appointed chairman of the psychiatry department of Columbia in 1976, he invited Mattone to become a research coordinator for adult neuroendocrine studies in depression and schizophrenia.
Mattone went on to become acting director of nursing and co-director of the Child Depression Clinic of Columbia University at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
“I learned about the complexities of mental health disease, especially depression in senior citizens,” she said. “From there, I learned that children suffer as much as adults do from this terrible disease.”
In 1982, Mattone switched gears, leaving academia when a social workers’ husband recruited her to Wall Street. She worked as a broker in the domestic and foreign exchange money markets. In 1984, she entered the real estate business, working with her mentor and father figure, James Conforti Jr.
Despite her success in business, Mattone decided to dedicate herself to humanitarian causes. Part of that transition came when she married Joseph Mattone in 1991. He encouraged her to pursue her philanthropic goals.
“He wanted me to pursue charitable work and use my time, my energy, my brain and his money, which I do very well,” she said with a laugh.
One of the most notable positions Mattone holds is on the Board of Trustees at the Queens Library.
“It helps those who can’t help themselves to get a better life. I can’t think of a more worthwhile institution than the Queens Library,” she said.
Of course, the library is not the only cause with which Mattone is involved. In 1994, by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani appointed her to the Cultural Advisory Board of NYC until 2002. She has served as vice president, treasurer and president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.
Some of her other philanthropic interests include the Queens Botanical Garden, the Ozanam Hall Nursing Home in Bayside, the Don Monti Research Foundation at North Shore University and the NYC Children’s Advocacy Center, which treats abused children.
Mattone is also heavily involved with the Catholic Church. She is a Lady of the Holy Sepulchre, a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Pope.
“If you’re an Italian-American Christian, it holds a responsibility. The responsibility is to look over your shoulder at the next person,” she said.
While Mattone was thankful for the many accolades she has received for her work, she said she was fortunate and grateful to have a strong family support system.
“I’m blessed because I had a wonderful parents and family who taught me values,” she said. “Whether you had a dollar or a thousand dollars in your pocket, you had to give what you could to the next person.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.