Dick Devos is currently head of the top civilian panel that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration as one of the newest members of the U.S. Department of Transportation but is best known as the husband of Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. He was the CEO of his family’s Amway Corp. from 1993-2001. Just prior to beginning that position, he began the process of building a multi-purpose sports arena and convention center in Grand Rapids, Mich. The planning began for an area north of downtown Grand Forks so as to avoid the financial difficulties to the downtown area that had resulted from the introduction of similar buildings in the downtown area in the past. His first plan of action, therefore, was to ensure that no such building would be proposed for the city’s primary business district. This is one of the most significant examples of the ways in which Devos has used his business expertise to expand his own business endeavors in a manner that he suggests is intended to help towards the prosperity of the entire community.
Both of the Devos’ have inherited family fortunes and have sought to use the money and influence related to those fortunes to create significant changes in politics, education, labor, and the economy. This has manifested itself particularly through their mutual devotion to the Republican Party and their sizable contributions to the GOP. Dick Devos is thought to be largely responsible for the state of Michigan’s drastic change from an organized labor structure to a right-to-work structure largely independent from labor unions. His work in this direction was culminated through a state law passed in 2012. At the same time, his wife was working to expand charter schools throughout the state, likewise attempting to change the face of the state’s entire education system.
Another of Devos’ most significant contributions to the state of Michigan is his role in the business reconstruction of Gerald R. Ford International Airport which is thought to have created exponential growth of the number of passengers and a drastic decrease in airline ticket prices. In addition to practical contributions of his business expertise like this, his financial contributions (as well as those of his wife) are reported to be widely diverse promoting leadership programs, churches, health and human services, education, and the arts. An especially large contribution helped pave the way for the children’s hospital that is now part of the Spectrum Health System.
While Betsy Devos is more known for her involvement with education, Dick Devos is also an important voice in this arena. He founded a school for aviation at the Grand Rapids International Airport. It is a charter school, such as his wife is known to promote. As such, he has combined many of his passions and even some more generally associated with his wife (business, aviation, finances, and education) in the formation of this school. His roles in education, though very distinct from what his wife does, fits well with her controversial plans for U.S. education.
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