Betsy DeVos Biography

Betsy DeVos is an American entrepreneur, politician, activist, and philanthropist who became the 11th US Secretary of Education in 2017. With a B.A. degree from Calvin College in Michigan, DeVos has been actively involved in politics for over three decades. She is known for her advocacy of education reform and school vouchers, and has played key roles in various organizations and committees. Despite facing strong opposition, DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. She comes from a wealthy family background and is married to Dick DeVos, a member of one of America’s richest families.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Elisabeth Dee DeVos
  • Age: 65 Years, 65 Year Old Females
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Dick DeVos (m. 1979)
    • Father: Edgar Prince
    • Mother: Elsa Zwiep
    • Siblings: Erik Prince
    • Children: Andrea DeVos, Elisabeth DeVos, Richard DeVos III, Ryan DeVos
  • Born Country: United States
  • Philanthropists
  • Political Leaders
  • Notable Alumni: Holland Christian High School, Calvin College
  • Ancestry: Dutch American
  • U.S. State: Michigan
  • More Facts:
    • Education: Calvin College, Holland Christian High School

Childhood & Early Life

Betsy DeVos was born Elisabeth Dee Prince on January 8, 1958, in Holland, Michigan, US, to Edgar Prince and Elsa (Zwiep) Prince (later Broekhuizen). Her father was a billionaire American businessman who founded the ‘Prince Corporation,’ a supplier of automobile parts.

She attended ‘Holland Christian High School’ in Michigan and then earned a BA degree from ‘Calvin College’ in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1979. She remained a member of the ‘Christian Reformed Church in North America’ during her growing up years. She is also a member and elder of Grand Rapids’ ‘Mars Hill Bible Church.’


Her journey with the ‘Michigan Republican Party’ started in 1982. Since 1986, she has been elected and serving the party as a local precinct delegate for every two-year term, 16 times in a row.

An entrepreneur in her own right, DeVos co-founded the privately held investment management firm ‘Windquest Group’ with her husband Dick DeVos in 1989. The firm has holdings in technology, clean energy, and manufacturing sectors among others.

In 1989, the ‘Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation’ was formed. Over the years, the foundation has donated millions of dollars to art organizations, hospitals, civic organizations, evangelical mission, Christian schools, charter schools, and public schools among others.

In 1992, she became the Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan and held the position till 1997. Meanwhile in 1996, she was inducted as the chairwoman of the ‘Michigan Republican Party.’ She resigned from the post in 2000 and was re-elected without opposition in 2003.

The Bush re-election campaign in 2004 saw her raising funds that amounted to over $150,000.

In October 2008, a Republican fundraiser event was hosted by her at her residence. The event was headlined by the then-US President George W. Bush.

In 2008, she and her husband set up ‘The Dick & Betsy DeVos Scholarship’ to help MA, MS, and MBA students, especially the ones from developing countries, attend ‘Thunderbird School of Global Management.’

She served the National Republican Senatorial Committee as its finance chairperson for two years. During this time, she worked closely with the Bush administration on different projects.

In 2012, DeVos and her husband produced the stage play ‘Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.’ The play, which received negative reviews, ran for three weeks before being taken off stage in December that year.

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, DeVos backed Marco Rubio. Speaking about Donald Trump in March 2016, she said he is an “interloper” and “does not represent the Republican Party.” Surprisingly, Trump nominated her as Secretary of Education in his cabinet on November 23.

Secretary of Education

Trump’s decision garnered mixed reaction from different sections. While it was criticized by teachers’ unions and different education groups, the advocates of school choice welcomed his decision.

Stephen Henderson, editor of ‘Detroit Free Press,’ wrote “DeVos isn’t an educator or an education leader.” The American Federation of Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten said she is “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee.”

On the other hand, ‘The Chicago Tribune,’ Republican Senator Ben Sasse, and former presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush favored her nomination.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held her confirmation hearing on January 17, 2017, which turned into an intense debate with the Democratic senators hurling questions at her.

Her nomination was approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on a 12-11 party-line vote on January 31, 2017. It was then sent for voting to the Senate floor.

All Republican senators, except Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, voted in her favor. Murkowski and Collins along with the Democrat and independent senators voted against her, making it a 50-50 tie.

On February 7, 2017, the tie was broken in favor of DeVos by Vice President Mike Pence, confirming DeVos as education secretary. The same day, she assumed office as the 11th US Secretary of Education, succeeding John King Jr.

In her first official visit as Secretary of Education on February 10, 2017, she faced protests outside the Southwest, Washington, D.C. public middle school ‘Jefferson Academy’ where protestors tried to restrict her from entering the school.

She gave her first extended policy address on March 29, 2017 at the ‘Brookings Institution.’ On April 11, she rescinded many policy memos issued by her predecessor John King Jr. She also revoked the policies issued by Ted Mitchell during the Obama Administration.

In October 2017, she repealed 72 guidance documents of the ‘Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS).

At a gathering in March 2018, she and three other cabinet members propagated an idea to start a school safety commission in order to provide more meaningful and better safety for children.

In September 2018, DeVos lost a federal lawsuit, which was filed against her in July 2017, by 19 States and District of Columbia for unlawfully delaying the implementation of certain regulation.

In May 2019, a report released by the Education Department Inspector General concluded that DeVos had used personal email accounts for government business. Moreover, the report also claimed that she hadn’t preserved the emails properly. She was also charged for contempt of court for disobeying court orders.

Personal Life & Legacy

She is married to Richard Marvin “Dick” DeVos Jr., better known as Dick DeVos. A businessman, Dick served as the CEO of ‘Amway,’ a multi-level marketing company co-founded by his billionaire father Richard DeVos.

For decades, the DeVos family has remained dedicated to the ‘Republican Party,’ making huge donations to the party, associated committees, and political candidates. They have donated over $17 million since 1989.

With an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion, the DeVos family was ranked 88th in Forbes’ list of richest families of America in 2016.

Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos, who served as an officer in the ‘United States Navy SEALs,’ founded the American private military company ‘Blackwater’ (presently known as Academi).

DeVos and her husband are blessed with four children – Richard Marvin (Rick) III, Ryan, Andrea, and Elisabeth (Elissa). They also have eight grandchildren.

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