Betsy DeVos is known for her position as the education secretary, known well for her steely yet polite demeanor, and is often recognized for her steadfastness when she has on her game face. DeVos has been known to use her family’s fortune to seek the greater good through her contributions; however, she is lesser known for her work behind the scenes, utilizing her finances for her allies and against her enemies, and determinedly to pass legislation where needed. This is a politician who can instill fear when she believes in a cause and doesn’t pass up on a fight.
The political fighter, on the other hand, knows when to drop her combative stance and settle into a team player role. Those that know DeVos know that she is anything but docile when it comes to fighting for the goals she sets her mind on. In fact, it seems as though DeVos is often underestimated, according to president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten. Weingarten says of Betsy, “She comes across as personable, plain-spoken, but she is dangerous.”
Raised wealthy and conservatively, DeVos is often described in contrary or even inconsistent ways by those who follow her. Residents of her hometown, whether or not they are in her same political camp, would tend to describe the Betsy DeVos they know as generous and realistic, especially based on the high level of involvement her family has had in the revitalization of the entire Grand Rapids area. She is known as a polite individual by many, and as a steely fighter by others.
Grand Rapids’ K-12 Christian school, Potter House, is one example of not only financial contributions, but volunteer hours that Betsy and Dick put into the community. John Booy, superintendent of Potter House, speaks highly of the DeVos couple and the strategy sessions that the two have put time into with students who are looking to go to college. He even defended her against musings from the LGBT community, where it was questioned how DeVos might receive LGBT and transgender communities, stating, “You really don’t know her at all.”
There are indications that DeVos was tied to foundations of her mother’s, thus tying her to donations to anti-LGBT groups. In 2017, Trump rescinded an Obama administration’s federal policy, which had allowed transgender students to choose the school bathrooms that they identified with. Betsy resisted the move, meeting with a representative of gay and transgender employees of the Education Department directly before Trump’s announcement in warning. DeVos’ dual personality of political fighter and polite team play is highly displayed in this capacity; despite her disagreement with the rescinding of the policy, she exhibited a united front with no cause to believe that she had come up short of saving the policy, or that there had been a rift at all.
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