Dick and Betsy Devos: The driving force behind the transformation of Grand Rapids.
Dick Devos was the Chief Executive Officer of his family’s Amway Corporation for almost a decade. This was between the period of 1993 to 2002. In 1991, he publicly voiced his displeasure with a plan to construct a multi-purpose sports and convention Centre in his hometown; Grand Rapids. He lobbied against the construction of the arena in the downtown region of Grand Rapids. Dick Devos said that the development of the sports complex would be disastrous to the wellbeing of the town. His campaign against the sports facility gave birth to a group of business executives. The group was the force behind the building of the Van Andel Arena, among other institutional structures. These infrastructures are accredited with the upward trajectory of the Grand Rapids skyline.
Dick married Betsy Davos who was also an heir to an enormous family fortune. Through their combined strength they tried to change and influence policies. Being donors of the GOP, they have used their influence to push for changes in laws of the state concerning labor and education. Betsy was a staunch advocate for the expansion of charter schools while on the other hand, Dick engineered the 2012 labor laws in Michigan. The Devos influence spans further than Republican politics and its conservative causes. For more than three decades now, the Dick & Betsy Family Foundation has supported and funded numerous just causes. These include leadership programs, arts and culture, and policy initiatives aimed at making changes in the education sector.
In 2006 the couple donated a chunk of the money used to construct a Children’s hospital. The hospital is named after Dick’s mother, Helen Devos, wife of Rich Devos. Dick says the hospital has increased pediatric care in the area allowing for mobile medical care. Education has been a major key point of concern for the Devos’. Dick founded the charter high school, West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010. Betsy says that their agendas towards education might be different, but the outcome they seek is the same. They have advocated for the less privileged children to be able to receive the same education as the rich kids. The momentum behind their school choices campaign is the reason behind Betsy’s appointment to President Trump’s cabinet. She is currently the U.S Secretary of Education.
Dick Devos was recently appointed to the top civilian panel overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA). The committee is charged with the duty of advising the senior FAA management on policy, budget, planning and regulation issues. Together they form a well-oiled engine which drives the agency. Dick is the former CEO of Amway which was founded by his father, Richard Devos. He is currently the CEO of his own company, the Windquest Group. It is a holding company that is based in Grand Rapids. Dick was instrumental in the development of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Dick and Betsy Devos have a tremendous effect on both the economy and social state of Grand Rapids.
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