For the majority of his career, Dick Devos has been among the business elite. Now as he works in Capitol Hill alongside his wife, the 11th US Education Secretary Betsy Devos, he joins transportation authorities and former airline executives on the FAA’s new Management Advisory Council. The council has 13 members, with Devos being the most recently appointed as of September 2017.
The FAA created the council to help with new policies and regulations that it has been released throughout 2018. This comes after President Trump challenged the agency during his presidential run, stating that America’s airports were far behind other countries.
With that, the FAA created the council, selecting knowledgeable transportation authorities from government and airline executives to help advise on new policies, regulations, budgets, and future growth. Devos was among those chosen. However, many wondered what type of background did Devos have in aviation?
Many may not know this, but Devos is an avid pilot, co-founder of an aviation academy, and the business partner to the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Throughout the 1990s, Devos worked side-by-side with business leaders in Grand Rapids, and one of those was the airport CEO. Devos saw an opportunity to expand the airport and bring in new business travelers.
He started by building up the downtown area of Grand Rapids. He wanted to help the businesses there achieve greater growth and commerce. This began with the creation of the Devos Performing Arts Center in the middle of downtown, as well as a convention center. The convention center would become more useful after Devos worked with the airlines at the airport to expand to other conference-acclaimed cities.
In fact, he made one phone call to the CEO of Air Tran Airways to see if he would open up new terminals at the Grand Rapids location. Soon, the airport had new destinations to Orlando, St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas. The changes to ticket sales were instant, and as the airport grew in popularity, many travelers began to see Grand Rapids as a great destination for business conferences as well.
In addition to his keen business acumen, Devos has worked with pilots as students through the West Michigan Aviation Academy. He co-founded the school with his wife Betsy Devos. It is the only pilot training school of its kind in the area.
Devos has also donated over $134 million to community projects, cultural arts, and education in Michigan, making his foundation one of the most popular donors in the state. Now as he joins the political climate in Washington, he will continue to work in Grand Rapids while helping the FAA with its new policies. The council meets once every quarter.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.