You may have heard the name Betsy DeVos in the news as of late. She gained a big spotlight when she was selected and confirmed as President Trump’s Secretary of Education. What you may not know about her is that she has a lot more history to her advocacy and charitable work than what you may know. Her partner in those missions is her husband Dick DeVos. He was the billionaire CEO of Amway Corp (his family’s business) from 1993 to 2002.
Back in 1991, the city that they live in (Grand Rapids, MI) was considering putting a new convention and sports center in their downtown area. The DeVos family got out to oppose the construction of this facility. They were not interested in seeing Grand Rapids face some of the same problems that Detroit had faced when it built large sports facilities only to eventually see their professional sports teams leave the area. Those moves harmed Detroit in ways that it may never recover from, and the DeVos couple was not willing to let that happen to their beloved Grand Rapids.
Instead of following the original plan, Betsy and Dick Devos went out of their way to fight for the construction of other facilities in the city that would be more beneficial to its long-term growth. They even formed an advocacy group by the name Grand Action to help them get this work done.
These are exactly the kind of things that this couple does all the time. They see problems in ways that others do not. They work to make sure that the best solutions are generated by looking at all alternatives. In a lot of cases, this means putting their own money into a variety of projects.
Dick DeVos has personally called the CEO of AirTran Airways in the past to get some help from him to bring a revitalization of the airport in Grand Rapids. That plan worked out pretty well also. DeVos has influence that a lot of other people simply do not. He uses those forces for good in a lot of cases.
Betsy and Dick DeVos will remain controversial to many people for a long time to come. Their plans and ideas are not always universally accepted. However, you know that when they do something, they are at least attempting to make things better for as many people as possible. It is debatable how well they do at this job, but they are certainly trying.
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