The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation recently donated one million dollars to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. According to a recent press release by the Kennedy Center this donation caps a $135.9 million dollar total that will go towards a new riverfront pavilion, and expansion and improvements to the center itself. DeVos is an entrepreneur businessman and former CEO of Amway, a consumer goods distribution company and through his foundation has participated directly in donating many thousands of dollars to the arts, education, and other worthwhile charities since 1990. Their foundation has been very committed to the arts, previously donating $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center Institute of Arts Management in 2010, which was then renamed the DeVos Institute of Arts. In further support of the arts, their foundation has supported ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI, since 2009.
Although Dick DeVos was born into the Amway family business, as his father Richard DeVos was a co-founder, his steady rise in the company was hardly nepotism. Under his steady leadership the company opened numerous new markets and tripled international sales from 5% of sales to over 50%.Check out Dick’s full resume on his LinkedIn profile or to read more about his history, click here.
DeVos retired as president of Alticor in 2002 and then resurfaced in a major political way in 2006 as he ran for Governor of Michigan as a Republican against then incumbent Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm. It was an election campaign that almost exclusively focused on jobs and the economy as Michigan was suffering through one of the highest unemployment rates of any state in the country. Even though he lead in the polls at one point 48-40 against Granholm, it proved to be too difficult a task to beat the incumbent governor, and he lost by a 14 point margin.
More recently in 2012 DeVos was very involved in Michigan’s becoming a right to work state. He started off with a series of debates with Teamster President James Hoffa and these debates focused on Michigan’s Proposition 2, to become a right to work state. Working in tandem with Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican controlled legislature DeVos worked behind the scenes with lawmakers and publicly by creating the Michigan Freedom Fund to help finance the campaign for Proposition 2’s passage. The proposal passed in 2013 and was considered a major political success for Dick as he was a key figure in getting it passed into law. Check out the interview with him explaining his position on this matter in the video below.