Dick DeVos has shaped the skyline of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and guided national efforts to reform educational choice. As the heir of an Amway Corp. co-founder, DeVos had the fortune and business connections to enable him to challenge a plan for a sports and convention center outside of downtown Grand Rapids in 1991.
He worried that the location would sap life from the core of the city as had happened in Detroit when the Palace of Auburn Hills and Pontiac Silverdome pulled sports teams out of the city. During his time as CEO of Amway between 1993 and 2002, he gathered business leaders to campaign against the proposed sports arena.
The group known as Grand Action focused on downtown and promoted the building of the DeVos Place Convention Center, the Michigan State University’s medical school, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids City Market, and the DeVos Performance Hall. These achievements added to the vitality of the city’s center and slowed urban sprawl.
DeVos and his wife Betsy also contributed $12.5 million to create a children’s hospital within Spectrum Health System. He serves as the chair of Spectrum’s board. Hospital construction started in 2006 and cost $103 million, but DeVos said that the facility allows local families to stay close to home when their children need advanced medical care.
On the state political scene, DeVos has exerted substantial influence. Although his gubernatorial campaign failed in 2000, DeVos successfully ushered a law into place in 2012 that prevented unions from requiring people to join their organizations as a condition of employment. Learn more: http://www.celebfamily.com/business/richard-devos-family.html
He and Betsy have also spent considerable resources within Michigan and nationwide to reform education. They funded their Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation with $138.7 million between 1989 and 2015. The donations directed by this foundation primarily promoted charter schools.
His founding of the West Michigan Aviation Academy represents one of his success stories in the realm of education. The charter school located at Gerald R. Ford International Airport opened in 2010. DeVos also played a pivotal role in convincing Southwest Airlines to expand services at that airport.
DeVos has a lifelong enthusiasm for aviation. He possesses a license to pilot jets, helicopters, and single-engine planes. In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation appointed him to the Management Advisory Council, a 13-member panel that advises the Federal Aviation Administration about long-term planning, policy, regulations, and spending.