Richard Marvin (Dick) DeVos Jr. has spent his career in business, politics but most notably philanthropy as he’s served with organizations whose objectives mesh with his beliefs of traditional conservative values. He also is a performing arts enthusiast, so it’s no surprise he and his wife Betsy have served on the board at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and also donated $22 million to the completion of its Arts Management Institute which was named in their honor and later merged with the University of Maryland. Dick DeVos also donated another $1 million to the Kennedy Center in 2015 for an expansion project.
Dick DeVos started out getting his formal business training at Northwood University in Michigan and worked for many years at his father Richard DeVos Sr’s company Amway Corporation. He even was CEO of Amway for 10 years and also founded an investment firm known as The Windquest Group whose holdings have been in neurosciences, clean water products and alternative energy production. He also served as CEO of the Orlando Magic for a few years after his family acquired the franchise in 1991.
Dick and Betsy are probably best known for being education reformers and working with lawmakers to promote legislation favoring school of choice and more opportunities for private schools. Dick was elected once to the Michigan Board of Education and also became a founder of several scholarship funds including the Education Freedom Fund and Children First America, while also working closely with the American Education Reform Council. He was also responsible for a Michigan State ballot initiative in the 2000 elections that would have amended the state constitution to favor private school voucher programs, though it was voted down. Dick and Betsy also chaired several charter school associations and helped open the West Michigan Aviation Academy. In the election of 2016 Betsy was chosen to become the next US Secretary of Education.
Dick has taken his philanthropy to Michigan’s Healthcare industry as well, and was given the Art of Giving award for his gift to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He is also a former political candidate who ran for governor in 2006 but lost to then incumbent Jennifer Granholm. But he also wrote the book “Rediscovering American Values” in 1998 and has also worked closely with the Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute, both of which were key in passing a 2012 right-to-work law in Michigan along with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.