Dick and Betsy DeVos have long been looking to be change agents. Since 1991, the pair have been looking to try and change the way schooling and education is done in Michigan. That is hardly the only thing Dick has lobbied about over his long years as a philanthropist. There was the time when Grand Rapids Michigan was going to build a convention center and multi-sports arena that DeVos didn’t think the area needed or could afford. The CEO of Amway picked up the phone and started lobbying his very important friends against the idea.
His lobbying not only worked, but he helped to found an organization that would build convention centers and facilities in better places for the community. The group was also instrumental in getting a new medical school for Michigan State in Grand Rapids. Those buildings have long been credited with changing the way the town looks for the better as well as helping to drive the area’s economy.
While Dick and his wife Betsy were relative unknowns to insiders before the Trump administration, they’ve long been considered megadonors in the GOP. They have been pushing their candidates while also making sure that their causes have a good push.
Dick’s wife has been in the spotlight more than he has in the recent past, thanks to being named education secretary for the Trump administration. Her viewpoints on charter schools have often caused her to be in the middle of controversy, but the longer that she’s been in the position, the more she seems to understand what is needed from her work. Now Dick appears to be joining the administration as well.
Back in September, Dick was tapped to join the top board on the FAA. Elaine Chao appointed DeVos as one of seven new members of the Management Advisory Council. This group advises the FAA when it comes to matters like spending and long-range planning.
This means that Dick is now a part of the Washington elite he had long been working with from the outside. Now that he’s on the inside, it will be interesting to see if he will have the same kind of reach he had as a relative insider.
Perhaps he will be even more effective. As Crains points out, the efforts of the Devos’ have not always panned out the way they planned. One of the reasons that DeVos has managed to be at the front and center of so many different controversies is because they have taken some positions that have rankled public school advocates. The couple has been pushing for more public funding of charter schools for decades now with mixed results. The appointment of Dick DeVos to the FAA board illustrates that the couple truly have more interests in just schools (https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-01-10/michigan-charter-school-backed-by-devos-growing). They have quite a big business background and they have used this to be quite successful in everything they have done to some degree or another. Dick and his wife Betsy are not people who take one setback and decide it’s over.