|Birth Day:||January 8, 1958|
|Birth Place:||Holland, Michigan, United States, United States|
|#4||Richard DeVos III||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#6||Christian Edgar Prince||Nephews||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#7||Erik Xavier Prince||Nephews||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
DeVos was born Elisabeth Prince on January 8, 1958. She grew up in Holland, Michigan, the eldest of four children born to Elsa (Zwiep) Prince (later, Broekhuizen) and Edgar Prince, a billionaire industrialist of Dutch ancestry. Edgar was the founder of Prince Corporation, an automobile parts supplier based in Holland, Michigan.
DeVos was educated at the Holland Christian High School, a private school located in her home town of Holland, Michigan. She graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business economics in 1979. During college, DeVos was involved with campus politics, volunteered for Gerald Ford's presidential campaign, and attended the 1976 Republican National Convention to participate in a program for young Republicans.
Rick and Betsy DeVos married in 1979, and have four grown children: Rick, Elissa, Andrea, and Ryan. Rick works for the Windquest Group as a consultant on urban development, and is the founder of Grand Rapids' ArtPrize festival.
Since 1982, DeVos has participated in the Michigan Republican Party. She served as a local precinct delegate for the Michigan Republican Party, having been elected for 16 consecutive two-year terms since 1986. She was a Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan between 1992 and 1997, and served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000. In 2004, the Lansing State Journal described DeVos as "a political pit bull for most of [Gov. Jennifer] Granholm's 16 months in office," and said that if DeVos was not Granholm's "worst nightmare," she was "certainly her most persistent". Bill Ballenger, editor of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics and a former Republican state senator, called DeVos "a good behind-the-scenes organizer and a good fund raiser" as well as "a true believer in core Republican issues that leave nobody in doubt on where she stands". DeVos resigned the position in 2000. She said in 2000, "It is clear I have never been a rubber stamp ... I have been a fighter for the grassroots, and following is admittedly not my strong suit." In 2003, DeVos ran again for party chairman and was elected to the post without opposition.
DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989. With a commitment of $100 million, Betsy DeVos was one of the largest investors—and losers—in blood-testing company Theranos.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation was launched in 1989. The foundation's giving, according to its website, is motivated by faith, and "is centered in cultivating leadership, accelerating transformation and leveraging support in five areas", namely education, community, arts, justice, and leadership. In 2015, the DeVos Foundation made $11.6 million in charitable contributions, bringing the couple's lifetime charitable giving to $139 million. Forbes ranked the DeVos family No. 24 on its 2015 list of America's top givers.
During the 1990s, she served on the boards of Children First America and the American Education Reform Council, which sought to expand school choice through vouchers and tax credits. She and her husband worked for the successful passage of Michigan's first charter-school bill in 1993, and for the unsuccessful effort in 2000 to amend Michigan's constitution to allow tax-credit scholarships or vouchers. In response to that defeat, DeVos started a PAC, the Great Lakes Education Project, which championed charter schools. DeVos's husband and John Walton then founded All Children Matter, a political organization, which she chaired.
In a 1997 op-ed for Roll Call, DeVos wrote that she expects results from her political contributions. "My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence," she wrote. "Now I simply concede the point. They are right." She also stated in the op-ed, "We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues … We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican Party to use the money to promote these policies and, yes, to win elections."
DeVos in 2001 listed education activism and reform efforts as a means to "advance God's Kingdom". In an interview that year, she also said that "changing the way we approach ... the system of education in the country ... really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run".
DeVos served as chairwoman of the board of Alliance for School Choice. Until November 2016, she headed the All Children Matter PAC which she and her husband founded in 2003 to promote school vouchers, tax credits to businesses that give private school scholarships, and candidates who support these causes. DeVos and her husband gave millions of dollars to the organization. In 2008, All Children Matter was fined $5.2 million in Ohio for illegally laundering money into political campaign funds. DeVos was not named in the case. The fine remained unpaid as of 2017, prompting calls by Democratic Party lawmakers for DeVos to settle the debt.
DeVos was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004, and served until 2010. While she was on the board, she and her husband funded a center to teach arts managers and boards of directors how to fundraise and manage their cultural institutions. The couple donated $22.5 million in 2010 to continue the endeavor, which was given in the name of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management.
DeVos personally raised more than $150,000 for the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, and hosted a Republican fundraiser at her home in October 2008 that was headlined by President George W. Bush. During the Bush Administration she spent two years as the finance chairperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and worked closely with the Administration on "various projects". The DeVos family has been active in Republican politics for decades, particularly as donors to candidates and the party, giving more than $17 million to political candidates and committees since 1989.
In 2009, Betsy DeVos's son Rick DeVos founded ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As of 2016 approximately 16 percent of ArtPrize's $3.5 million annual budget was provided by various foundations run by the DeVos family, with the rest provided by other foundations and local and national businesses.
DeVos and her husband were producers for a Broadway run of the stage play Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, in 2012, based on the life of the famous evangelist and featuring a book and lyrics written by Kathie Lee Gifford. The show ran for three weeks, closing in December 2012 after receiving negative reviews.
During the Republican Party presidential primaries for the 2016 election, DeVos initially donated to Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina before eventually supporting Marco Rubio. In March 2016, DeVos described Donald Trump as an "interloper" and said that he "does not represent the Republican Party".
On November 23, 2016, Trump's transition team announced DeVos as the nominee to be the next Secretary of Education. Upon her nomination, DeVos said "I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable." DeVos's nomination was generally criticized by teachers unions and praised by supporters of school choice.
In 2016 the Foundation reported $14.3 million in donations to over 100 organizations including the X Prize Foundation, Mars Hill Bible Church, American Enterprise Institute.
DeVos has been an advocate for the Detroit charter school system. Douglas N. Harris, professor of economics at Tulane University, wrote in a 2016 The New York Times op-ed that DeVos was partly responsible for "what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country". In the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Detroit had the lowest reading and mathematics scores "by far" over any city participating in the evaluation. According to Harris, she designed a system with no oversight in which schools that do poorly can continue to enroll students.
The DeVos family is one of Michigan's wealthiest. Betsy DeVos's husband, Richard Marvin "Dick" DeVos Jr., is a multi-billionaire heir to the Amway fortune who ran Amway's parent company, Alticor, from 1993 to 2002. Dick DeVos is a major donor to conservative political campaigns and social causes, and was the 2006 Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan. Dick's father, Richard Marvin DeVos Sr., co-founded Amway and was the owner of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. Richard DeVos was listed by Forbes in 2016 as having a net worth of $5.1 billion, making him America's 88th wealthiest individual.
The confirmation hearing for DeVos was initially scheduled for January 10, 2017, but was delayed for one week after the Office of Government Ethics requested more time to review her financial disclosures. On January 17, 2017 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held the hearing, which lasted three-and-one-half hours and "quickly became a heated and partisan debate". Democratic senators directed several questions toward her regarding her wealth, including questions about her family's political donations to the Republican Party and whether or not she had personal experience with financial aid or student loans. Several media outlets reported that DeVos appeared to have plagiarized quotes from an Obama administration official in written answers submitted to the Senate committee. DeVos drew widespread media attention during the confirmation hearings for suggesting that guns might have a place in some schools due to a threat from grizzly bears. DeVos's comment was later lampooned by television personalities Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and James Corden.
On January 31, DeVos's nomination was approved by the committee on a 12–11 party-line vote and was due to be voted on by the Senate. Later on February 1, 2017, two Republican U.S. Senators, Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, came out against the confirmation (despite supporting DeVos in committee when both of them voted to move her nomination to the floor), bringing the predicted confirmation vote on DeVos to 50–50 if all Democrats and independents voted as expected, meaning Vice President Mike Pence would have to break the tie. During an unusually early 6:30 a.m. vote on February 3, 2017, cloture was invoked on DeVos's nomination in the Senate, requiring a final vote on the confirmation to happen after 30 hours of debate.
Ahead of the scheduled final vote at noon on February 7, 2017, the Democrats in the Senate continuously spoke on the floor against the confirmation of DeVos the entire night before leading up to the vote, in protest of their strong disapproval of the nominee. As expected, there was a 50–50 tie on the final vote, with all Democrats and independents, along with two Republicans (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski), voting in opposition to DeVos, while the other fifty Republican senators voted in support of the confirmation, including Senator Jeff Sessions, who himself had been nominated by the Trump administration for the post of United States Attorney General. Republicans scheduled Sessions's confirmation vote after DeVos's so that he would be able to cast his vote in support of DeVos. Had his confirmation vote been earlier than hers, he would have been forced to resign from the Senate, therefore losing a vital vote for the Republicans on the confirmation. Since there was a tie, Vice President Mike Pence had to step in to decide the vote as the President of the Senate. He cast his tie-breaking vote in favor of DeVos to officially confirm her as education secretary. This was the first tie decided by a vice president on any vote in the Senate since the George W. Bush administration.
In April 2017, DeVos praised the President's nomination of Carlos G. Muñiz as the Department's general counsel.
In April 2017, DeVos named Candice Jackson Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department's Office for Civil Rights, where she will be acting Assistant Secretary while that higher, Senate-confirmed appointment is vacant. DeVos named Jason Botel Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. Botel, a registered Democrat who supported President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement, founded the KIPP Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore, after working for Teach For America.
In February 2017, DeVos released a statement calling historically black colleges "real pioneers when it comes to school choice", causing controversy as some pointed out the schools originated after segregation laws prevented African-Americans from attending others. DeVos later acknowledged racism as an important factor in the history of historically black colleges.
On March 24, 2017, during a visit to the Osceola County campus of Valencia College, DeVos said she was considering the extension of federal financial aid for students that were year-round and interested in placing more focus on community colleges.
DeVos delivered her first extended policy address on March 29, 2017, at the Brookings Institution which included the topic of school choice which has been her main advocacy issue for more than 30 years. She stated an interest in implementing choice policies directed toward children as individuals and criticizing the Obama administration's additional funding of $7 billion for the U.S.'s worst-performing schools as "throwing money at the problem" in an attempt to find a solution. On May 22, 2017, DeVos announced the Trump administration was offering "the most ambitious expansion" of school choice within American history. DeVos cited Indiana (which has the U.S.'s largest school voucher program) as a potential model for a nationwide policy, but did not give specific proposals.
On June 6, 2017, DeVos said states' rights would determine private schools being allocated funds by the federal government during an appearance before members of a House appropriations committee.
On April 11, 2017, DeVos undid several Obama administration policy memos issued by John King Jr. and Ted Mitchell which were designed to protect student loan borrowers.
On July 6, 2017, Democratic attorneys-general in 18 states and Washington, D.C., led by Massachusetts attorney-general Maura Healey, filed a federal lawsuit against DeVos for suspending the implementation of rules that were meant to protect students attending for-profit colleges. The rules, developed during the Obama administration, were meant to take effect on July 1, 2017.
On June 2, 2017, DeVos announced her support of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement the prior day.
On July 13, 2017, Candice Jackson, who is a sexual assault survivor, organized a meeting with DeVos, college sexual assault victims, accused assailants, and higher education officials, and said she would look at policies on sexual assault accusations on campuses from the Obama administration to see if accused students were treated within their rights. Asked by CBS 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl about her repeal of Obama administration guidelines for colleges dealing with reports of sexual assaults, she said her concern was for men falsely accused of such assaults. "Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved," said DeVos. However, some survivors of sexual assault and harassment and organizations which advocate on their behalf oppose the changes and say they would make schools more dangerous.
In October 2017, DeVos revoked 72 guidance documents of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services which outlined the rights of disabled students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
DeVos has been a controversial figure throughout her tenure. In her first official appearance as Secretary on February 10, 2017, dozens of protesters showed up to prevent her appearance. The protesters physically blocked her from entering through the back entrance of Jefferson Academy, a D.C. public middle school in Southwest, Washington, D.C. DeVos was eventually able to enter the school through a side entrance.
During her first visit to a public university on April 6, 2017, DeVos was confronted by around 30 protestors. She was touring an area designed to resemble a hospital ward at Florida International University. The following day, the U.S. Marshals Service said after a threat evaluation was conducted in February that DeVos would be given additional security, projecting a cost of $7.8 million between February and September 2017.
On May 10, 2017, DeVos gave a commencement speech at Bethune–Cookman University, a historically black college, and during her speech a majority of the students booed DeVos, with about half of them standing up and turning their backs to her. She also received an honorary doctorate from the university.
In February 2017, artist Glenn McCoy created a political cartoon called Trying to Trash Betsy DeVos, based on Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. In the same month, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon parodied the Education Department's typos on Twitter, featuring Jo Firestone as DeVos.
In mid-May 2018, The New York Times reported that under DeVos, the size of the team investigating abuses and fraud by for-profit colleges was reduced from about twelve members under the Obama administration to three, with their task also being scaled back to "processing student loan forgiveness applications and looking at smaller compliance cases". DeVos also appointed Julian Schmoke as the team's new supervisor; Schmoke was a former dean of DeVry Education Group, which was one of the institutions the team had been investigating. The investigation into DeVry was not the only one stopped, others include those of Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation. The Education Department has hired more ex-employees and people affiliated with those institutions, such as Robert S. Eitel, senior counselor to DeVos, Diane Auer Jones, an advisor to the Department, and Carlos G. Muñiz, the Department's general counsel.
In October 2018, it was announced that DeVos' chief of staff, Josh Venable, would be replaced by Nate Bailey, who at that time was DeVos' chief of communications. Two years later, Venable joined an anti-Trump group, the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR), which is led by former White House officials.
On September 12, 2018, DeVos lost the lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia, which accused the Department of Education of improperly delaying implementation of regulations protecting student loan borrowers from predatory practices.
In March 2018, DeVos announced a School Safety Commission, to provide meaningful and actionable recommendations. Members were four Cabinet members, including herself. The organization held a meeting on March 28 and a gathering of school shooting survivors and families on April 17.
According to DeVos's 2018 financial disclosure form certified by the Office of Government Ethics on December 3, 2018, she had not divested from twenty-four assets required under her signed ethics agreement nearly 22 months after being confirmed in February 2017.
DeVos has been played by Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live multiple times, including satirizing DeVos's 60 Minutes interview in March 2018. That same month, Randy Rainbow created a satirical "interview" with DeVos based on the 60 Minutes interview, with Out stating, "It goes about as well as you'd expect it to."
In August 2018, a vandal untied DeVos's $40 million yacht that had been moored at a marina on Lake Erie, causing it to sustain $10,000 in damages. The 163-foot-long (50 m) vessel is one of ten yachts owned by her family, which has a net worth of $5.3 billion. The craft is registered in the Cayman Islands, so is not subject to state property tax.
Betsy and her husband Dick are chief investors in and board members of Neurocore, a group of brain performance centers offering biofeedback therapy for disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, autism, and anxiety. The therapy consists of showing movies to patients and interrupting them when they become distracted, in an effort to retrain their brains. According to The New York Times, a review of Neurocore's claims and interviews with medical experts suggest that the company's conclusions are unproven and its methods questionable. Democratic senators raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest and questioned whether she and her family members would "benefit financially from actions" she could take as the U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos announced that she would step down from the company's board but would retain her investment in the company, valued at $5 million to $25 million. In November 2019, Truth In Advertising filed complaints against Neurocore with the Food and Drug Administration for unapproved medical devices and the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing.
In 2019, DeVos unsuccessfully attempted to cut federal funding for the Special Olympics from her department's budget, which she had also attempted to cut in her previous two annual budgets.
In May 2019, the Education Department Inspector General released a report concluding that DeVos had used personal email accounts to conduct government business and that she did not properly preserve these emails.
DeVos pushed for schools to re-open while coronavirus cases were still surging in large parts of the country. She said that the Trump administration was considering pulling funding from public schools unless they provided full-time in person learning during the pandemic. On July 12, 2020, she said "there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous to them", an assertion that public health experts disputed. She also refused to say whether schools should follow guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reopening schools.
In September 2020, it was reported that the Office of the Special Counsel had investigated DeVos over potential violations of the Hatch Act after she appeared on Fox News during the 2020 election campaign, where she attacked Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden. After her television appearance, the Department of Education promoted her Fox News interview.
Currently, Betsy DeVos is 63 years, 8 months and 14 days old. Betsy DeVos will celebrate 64th birthday on a Saturday 8th of January 2022.
Find out about Betsy DeVos birthday activities in timeline view here.