Dick DeVos is no stranger to making attempts to change both public institutions as well as policy. This most notably began in 1991 when he lobbied against a multipurpose sports arena north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, fearing the long term repercussions it may have had on the city. This led to the formation of Grand Action, a committee of influential business leaders. As GOP mega-donors, the DeVos family has proven to be very influential within the political realm in both the labor and education fields. While Betsy pushed for charter school policy, Dick Devos led the way to Michigan’s transformation into a right-to-work state. In the past 30 years the Devos’ foundation is also credited with donations of $138.7 million going to leadership programs, the arts, health, as well as various policy initiatives centered on education reform. Mr. DeVos went so far as to open an aviation based public charter school in 2010, backed fervently by his wife.This has seen enormous support from the community. It is tuition free, and boasts some of the highest levels of diversity as well as multicultural inclusion in the state. It also tests in the top 10 in SAT scores within the county. He co-founded the Great Lakes Education project, which is a school choice advocacy organization.
Mr. DeVos is also credited with turning the Gerald Ford Airport around. This was, in large part, accomplished by his wooing of airline giant Southwest Airlines and subsequent convincing of them to offer routes out of Grand Rapids. This in turn lowered air fares while steadily growing the passenger size. Over time, this has gotten the attention of the FAA. With all of his efforts into revitalizing an ailing airport in combination with his background as a pilot and former CEO of Amway, the organization decided to appoint him to the top position in a civilian panel on aviation. He will serve in a volunteer capacity on the panel for three years with several other public and private sector leaders totaling over a century of combined invaluable experience within their respective fields. It is believed that Mr. DeVos will bring a combination of strong leadership traits and industry insight as well as his inherent deep roots in the field of aviation to the FAA’s panel.
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