You know what happens when you decide to swim against the stream – you have a fight on your hands. That’s exactly what Betsy DeVos has – a fight. Her ideas and actions put the power of children’s education into the hands of their parents. Some organizations aren’t too happy about that. Think: Unions. But that’s okay because Secretary DeVos is accustomed to the battle, one that she’s been at the forefront of for 35 years.
Born Elisabeth Prince in 1958, Betsy grew up in Holland, Michigan and has spent most of her adult life advocating for children’s education in her home state and beyond. (She has been a leading force behind new educational choices for children in 25 states and the District of Columbia.) As the daughter of a public school teacher, the importance of education inspired Betsy at an early age. But it was during her children’s school years that she first became concerned about the uneven playing field in education. This led to her 15-year position as a “mentor to at-risk children” in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. She met not only with the students, but also with their parents and teachers. A milestone in her life, she has reflected that ” [it] changed my life and my perspective about education forever.”
Betsy is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Economics and was an active voice in campus politics. She has been elected four times as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and has held leadership roles in party organizations, campaigns, and political action committees. Former Governor of Michigan John Engler has praised the work of Secretary DeVos in their home state and abroad. “Thankfully, as a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Ms. DeVos has been singularly focused on accountability and results — exactly what our education system needs. She is a particularly strong advocate for increasing accountability of both traditional and charter public schools in Michigan.” DeVos supported a new state law for Detroit schools that grades each school on an A – F scale. Institutions that receive an F rating three years in row are closed. It’s all about accountability and Betsy and her husband of 30 years, Dick DeVos, have a proven record of being accountable with all that they’ve been given. In 1989, they founded the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, dbdvfoundation.org. This highly successful foundation supports organizations such as the West Michigan Aviation Academy, Project Clarity and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Betsy and Dick have four children, a daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren.
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