Betsy DeVos (2017-2021)
Elisabeth “Betsy” Dee Prince was born on January 8, 1958, in Holland, Michigan. Her father was Edgar Prince, a billionaire industrialist and founder of the Prince Corporation. In 1979, Betsy received a Bachelor of Arts in business economics from Calvin College. The same year, she married Dick DeVos, Jr, who was the son of the founder of Amway, a marketing company for home, beauty, and health products.
Betsy and Dick DeVos are wealthy, conservative Christians who are active in Republican Party politics. She was a campaign volunteer for President Gerald Ford in 1976 and served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000. She and her husband have also raised considerable funds for Republican candidates.
In 1989, the DeVoses founded Windquest Group, a private investment and management company. The same year, Betsy pioneered the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, dedicated to donating to Christian organizations, charter schools, and universities. As a supporter of school choice and school vouchers, DeVos is a champion for families having access to federally funded vouchers to finance private or charter school education.
In November 2016, President Donald Trump nominated DeVos as the 11th US Secretary of Education. Many criticized Trump’s choice of DeVos as education secretary because of her lack of experience in public education or in the classroom. As a long-time advocate for school choice, DeVos strongly supported private, religious schools, and critics worried that she might weaken public schools. The US Senate confirmed her on February 7, 2017, after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote, 51-50. Secretary DeVos was a controversial appointment as she worked to roll back Title IX protections that guided how colleges and universities handled sexual assault complaints, to weaken protections for LGBT, minority, and disabled students, and to suspend rules to protect students at for-profit colleges. She served as secretary of Education for Trump's whole term.