When Mike Pongon was growing up, he knew his aunt lived with MS, but didn't know much about the disease. Now the CEO of a thriving consulting firm with eight years on the board of the Oregon Chapter under his belt, he was recently appointed to the national board of the Society. Mike's involvement started with Walk MS. "I started walking in Portland and Vancouver fifteen years ago with my dad. My aunt's health had begun to deteriorate, and she moved in with my parents," he says. "As my career progressed, I started thinking about what I could do in a leadership capacity." Not only did Mike join and eventually chair Oregon Chapter board of trustees, he helped build the board, grow regional Walk MS and Bike MS events, and created an innovative national fundraising model to form Bike MS teams within his consulting firm, Point B. Point B's teams from its Seattle and Portland offices were so successful that Pongon decided to follow suit in each of the company's eight offices around the country. "If you have an up-and-coming leader inside your company, starting a team is a great way to build skills in a non-corporate, non-traditional way," he explains. Pongon is proud of the community building that has resulted from Point B's Bike MS teams. Awareness of the disease has been another benefit. "People often don't realize that there are people in their own companies [who are affected by MS]," he says. As Pongon joins the national board of the Society — sitting on the Chapter Relations committee — he's poised to contribute his broad leadership skills on a larger scale. Drawing from his experience to help consolidate the Society's nine finance committees across the Western region, he views pooling resources as key to defeat MS. "Our work to eradicate the disease is better leveraged as a national organization as opposed to an affiliation of chapters," he adds. Pongon is also eager to learn from his fellow national board members. "I'm really interested in what's happening globally," he says. He wants to find out as much as he can about advancements in available drug treatments, some of which have directly benefitted his aunt's health. His appointment to the national board, he believes, is an opportunity to help determine the best investments the Society can make, "to not only stop the disease, but to end it forever."
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