As the President of the top direct sales company in the U.S. Dick DeVos was a name I heard on a number of occasions in the 1990s and early 2000s when he was the head of the AmWay Group; I was impressed with the way Dick DeVos oversaw the transition of the AmWay Group to a company ready for the demands of the 21st century. I was recently shocked to discover in an article from Philanthropy Roundtable that Dick was also serving as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education from 1990 onward as one of the most influential figures in the U.S. education reform movement; Dick has been a major figure in the education reform movement for a number of years after working with his wife Betsy on a number of state level programs for school choice and school vouchers that have come into force in Florida, Louisiana, and a number of other states. In the Philanthropy Roundtable article Dick’s wife Betsy stated her belief that the ability to get Florida to allow school choice remains one of the biggest achievements in the lives of herself and Dick as education reform was still a fringe movement prior to this moment. The skills of Dick DeVos as a negotiator have always been something I have been impressed with after I discovered the Northwood University graduate became the AmWay executive in charge of foreign sales and led the department to a ten fold increase in sales, according to Wikipedia.
I’ve always been pleased to see the business leaders I admire give something back to the communities they are working in and have been remarkably impressed with how Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have done their utmost to make sure the Grand Rapids, Michigan area is served well by their philanthropic endeavors, including the work Dick completes as the Chair of the Grand Rapids Action Plan Committee.