Dick and Betsy DeVos could define the American “power couple.” Born into wealth, each has tirelessly devoted energy and resources to serving their local community, state and the nation as a whole. While Betsy may be more well-known to the American public since her appointment as President Trump’s Secretary of Education, 62-year-old Dick DeVos is equally committed to his beliefs.
DeVos, son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, understands the value of hard work. He began working in the family business as a child doing everything from clearing tables to public speaking. He began working his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming President in 1993. While serving as VP of foreign operations, he increased non-U.S. sales from 5% of overall sales to 50%. As Amway’s President, DeVos is credited, with his brother Doug, with overseeing a corporate restructuring that possibly saved the company and turned Amway into a global enterprise.
He demonstrated the universality of his management skills when he left Amway in 1991 for a two year stint as President and CEO of the Orlando Magic basketball franchise. DeVos rejoined Amway, serving as President from 1993 until 2002. He is currently CEO of The Windquest Group, a Grand Rapids holding company.
In 1991, there were plans in his home city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to erect a multi-purpose sports and convention arena north of the city’s downtown. Devos was concerned that the proposed arena would be as harmful to Grand Rapids’ downtown as similar arenas had been to Detroit.
DeVos lobbied against the Grand Rapids proposal, spearheading Grand Action, a group of business leaders who were instrumental in the construction of the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market, The DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Place Performance Hall and the medical school at Michigan State University. These destinations prevented Grand Rapids from experiencing many of the problems facing Detroit. He remains a heavily involved civic leader.
Politics, Education, Aviation and Philanthropy
As a long-time pilot, DeVos was instrumental in bringing increased air traffic to Grand Rapids. He has worked steadfastly with his wife, Betsy, in support of school choice and other educational reforms. Since 1989, the faith-based Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has focused on sponsoring leadership and is ranked as one of America’s top givers.
DeVos has many and varied interests. A few highlights include:
- 1990: Election to Michigan State Board of Education
- 1996: Appointment to Grand Valley State University Board of Control
- 2006: Candidate for Governor of Michigan, losing his bid but doing much better than expected as a Republican in a heavily Democratic state
- 2010: Opening West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school focused on preparing students for careers in aviation.
- 2012: Instrumental in the passage of a right-to-work law in Michigan
- 2017: Appointment to the top civilian Management Advisory Council which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration on matters of spending, policy, regulations and long-range planning
DeVos is devoted to his family and faith. He is passionate about his beliefs and is willing to invest his time, energy and money on their behalf. Although he generally prefers to work behind the scenes, no one should underestimate his influence. Learn more: https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-01-10/michigan-charter-school-backed-by-devos-growing