The name Dick DeVos may not come to mind immediately when discussing affluent businessmen or politicians, yet he’s connected in those same two arenas to other famous people and has a career himself in those fields. His father, Richard DeVos Sr. is the current owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, and Dick himself even served as CEO of the franchise for a short period. His wife, Betsy is a renowned education reform activist in the state of Michigan, and has been selected to be the new Secretary of Education by President-elect Donald Trump. And Dick and his family have had close ties to the Ford family, most notably former President Gerald R. Ford.
Dick DeVos’s has spent many years as an investment advisor and business strategist at The Windquest Group, the company that he and Betsy co-founded. But he started at a young age working for his family’s company, Amway Corporation. His father helped build that company with Jay Van Andel, and Dick and his brothers all grew up learning how the company operated. Amway is a multilevel marketing company that sells products directly to its customers, and then allows them to make profits reselling the products. Dick started out at Amway as a manager of various functions, but soon became an executive. He later grew the company’s operations into more than 50 new countries when he became CEO, a position he held from 1993 to 2002.
Dick and Betsy are probably most known for their activism and philanthropy. They started out as primarily education reformers who wanted to help low income families afford private schools for their children. The DeVos’s started scholarship programs including Children First America and the Education Freedom Fund to help in this endeavor, but later decided they needed to help expand private schools and charter schools when their efforts to create tax credit voucher programs failed. They soon helped fund more private schools, and even started a charter school of their own, the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick also ran for governor in the 2006 race, losing a heated contest to incumbent Jennifer Granholm. But he did successfully lead the effort to adopt right-to-work legislation in 2012. He was also a part of Grand Action Committee which helped renovate and bring in business to downtown Grand Rapids. He and Betsy have also given to local children’s hospitals and the Spectrum Health Foundation gave Dick the Art of Giving award in 2010.