Betsy DeVos Plays Consequential Role in State and National Affairs

Today, Betsy DeVos may always be best known for the high office she held during the four years of the Trump Administration. She was selected to serve as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. Her tenure as a White House Cabinet member came to an abrupt end near the end of the Trump era. She resigned as Education Secretary in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.


However, Betsy DeVos will always be known as a reformer, an innovator, a fierce advocate for education reform and her enormous influence on the course of the Michigan Republican Party over the past three decades.


While still a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Betsy DeVos – then better known as Elisabeth Prince – volunteered to work for the presidential campaign of Michigan’s favorite son Gerald R. Ford. He lost his bid for the White House to Jimmy Carter in the 1975 election. But the experience only deepened the commitment of DeVos to the central ideas offered by conservative Republican ideals.


Born into a family of wealth herself, Elisabeth Prince married Amway scion and heir Dick DeVos in 1979. Their considerable combined wealth and political ambitions would make Dick and Betsy the ultimate Michigan power couple.


Beginning in 1982, Betsy DeVos served as a local precinct delegate for the state Republic Party. She was re-elected to 16 consecutive two-year terms. From 1992 through 1997, she was a Republican National Committeewoman. She was then selected to lead the Michigan Republican Party in 1996 as its chairperson.


All the while, DeVos and her husband were deeply engaged in philanthropy. Worth an estimateds $5 billion, Forbes estimated the couple has given away a full one-third of their fortune. They have supported numerous worthy causes, from programs for the poor and disadvantaged to bankrolling new and innovative charter schools.


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