Press "Enter" to skip to content

The DeVos: The Couple Who’s Changing Institutions

Dick and Betsy DeVos are changing many institutions and the face of their own hometown. In 1991, there was a plan started to bring a sports arena and convention center north of the downtown area of Grand Rapids. At the time, Dick was the CEO of Amway Corporation which is owned by his family. He had originally campaigned against the new sports facility because he worried that it could be detrimental to the area.


His campaigning ended up leading to the formation of Grand Action. This was a group of many business leaders behind construction of other places such as the medical school of Michigan State University and the City Market of Grand Rapids.


As the heirs to two family fortunes, much of the DeVos’ time was spent trying to change policies and institutions. They have always been major donors to the GOP. Their personal political views have influenced major changes in many state laws which affect labor and education. Education Reform has been one of the top initiatives for the couple. They even founded an aviation charter school for high school kids at the Grand Rapids airport.


As much as they have been able to influence opinions and change institutions, they have not always succeeded in their efforts. In 2000, they were voted against for their amendment to create vouchers for students who attend private schools and be funded through taxes. Additionally, in 2006, Dick DeVos lost his very costly campaign when running for governor against Jennifer Granholm. The couple doesn’t give up, though. They have just shifted their strategies and now have gotten some type of voucher for students of private schools in 24 other states. This option gives many students and parents more choices regarding their education as well as the ability to continue to grow.


Mr. DeVos is the husband of United States Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. He is also the oldest son of the founder of Amway. He has a big reputation in the arena of aviation. He is a self-described pilot and aviation geek. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of experience flying commercially, he was still asked if he would take on the lead of bringing Southwest to the Grand Rapids area. He had accepted under a single condition of being able to do it his own way. This meant taking on a business approach to it and carrying out the plan far from the media and public eye until it was fully ready to be shared.


Follow Dick DeVos on Facebook.