Zachary Ponsky is a partner with Midwest Development Partners, and is the founder and board president of Medworks, which helps the underserved access health care in the region and provides pop-up free clinics. He was also the first volunteer for MedWish International, a nonprofit that repurposes discarded medical supplies and equipment in developing countries, when he was in high school. His brother, Dr. Lee Ponsky, is chief of urologic oncology and professor of urology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and is the founder and board president of MedWish. Their father, Dr. Jeffery Ponsky, professor of surgery and director of developmental endoscopy at Cleveland Clinic, is on the board of directors at Medworks and volunteers with MedWish.
Dr. Jeffery Ponsky said his sons never needed any prodding from him to do the right thing.
“They didn’t need any encouragement,” he said. “They picked up the bit and took it in their mouth and ran with it, so to speak. They saw the need and filled it – I was happy to assist in any way, but it was their vision.”
Zachary Ponsky echoed his father’s sentiments when asked what advice he would give to others looking to make an impact.
“Find a need and fill it,” he said, adding that people need to open their eyes to find where there are needs in the community.
Though each of the Ponskys has his own focus in the community, all three – along with Dr. Jeffery Ponsky’s wife and the sons’ mother, Jackie, whom Dr. Lee Ponsky described as “the glue and grounded-ness” that allowed such values to pass through the family – have been by each other’s sides throughout all endeavors. However, Dr. Lee Ponsky said they don’t stop to congratulate themselves on the work they do.
“We never step back and pat ourselves on the back,” he said. “We have people ask us if we can believe what we’re doing or what we have accomplished, and we never do that, we always ask ‘what else can we be doing?’
“I’m proud of the fact that we grew up in a community that’s supported our efforts, and now that I have children, I’m glad that we grew up in a family with values of taking action and helping other people. It’s about giving back, not just financially but in our actions, and I’m proud to see our future generations – our kids have a desire to continue that. I think that’s the best gift we can give, and I think our children will be proud of the legacy we have continued, going back to my grandmother.”
Dr. Jeffery Ponsky said many good people helped him make a difference in the community.
“I’ve had a lot of good people around me,” he said, specifically citing his
father-in-law, Leo Goldberg, and his brother-in-law, Bobby Goldberg. “A lot of good role models.”
Zachary Ponsky also credited his mother and grandmother for instilling in him his sense of tikkun olam, but wasn’t satisfied to rest on his laurels.
“Success for me is a never-ending journey,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress.”
– Ed Carroll