Betsy DeVos spoke with Philanthropy Roundtable about the charitable and philanthropic activities of herself and her husband, Dick DeVos. What’s notable is how their charitable and political activities fit together because both spring from their Christian and conservative values. And, although they donate to many causes, education is the most common subject. They support many education-related charities such as The Potter’s House, a private Christian school and the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter high school dedicated to aviation. Politically, they support organizations working to expand educational choice. That is why Betsy DeVos is now Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. Betsy also served for years as the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. And Dick DeVos ran for governor of Michigan as the Republican candidate in 2006. She told Philanthropy Roundtable she is optimistic about the future of educational choice.
Although Dick DeVos knew wealth as a young man, he wasn’t born into it. His father Richard DeVos cofounded Amway. Dick remembers that when he was a child, they fulfilled orders in the basement. He remembers helping his father send boxes of products out in the mail.
As was natural, once out of college Dick took a position in the family business. As Vice President of Amways’ international sales outside of North America, he was responsible for Amway’s growth in eighteen countries. For the first time in Amway’s history, its international sales exceeded its sales within the United States. From 1993 to 2002, DeVos served as Amway’s president. By the end of his term, the country has grown to over 50 countries on six continents, and reported $4.5 billion in sales.
However, DeVos has business experience in other industries as well. He served and President and CEO of the Orlando Magic for three years. After leaving Amway, he launched The Windquest Group, of which he is now president. The Windquest Group is a private holding company that owns and manages a portfolio other companies.
DeVos has numerous outside interests and activities. He is a qualified pilot of both jet aircraft and helicopters and National Champion sailor. That’s why Elaine Chao, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, appointed him to the Management Advisory Council of the Federal Aviation Administration. He started the Education Freedom Fund, which has given more 4,000 scholarships to Michigan students and he has served on the State Board of Education. He’s also a successful author. The book he wrote in 1997, Rediscovering American Values, became a New York Times bestseller.
To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com/.