Dick DeVos’ Silent Contributions to the Conservative Movement

The article spotlights the DeVos’s family work in philanthropy. It details how a family that began its ascend when Richard DeVos Sr. helped found Amway in 1959 evolved into a family with a level of influence that rivals Koch brothers, albeit with a smaller media profile. Today Dick DeVos, the patriarch’s son, has a net worth of $5 billion dollars and he uses a good percentage of that wealth to invest in a variety of conservative causes. Prominent in his philanthropic activities are donations to Republican political candidates. Dick DeVos’ interest in politics runs so deep that he ran an unsuccessful campaign as Michigan’s republican nominee to the governorship in Michigan, only to lose to the democrat incumbent. His wife, Betsy DeVos, shares the interest in politics, having worked as chair to the Michigan Republican Party. Recently the DeVoses put their philanthropic weight behind GOP candidate Jeb Bush’s campaign.

The area where the DeVos’s family influence is most strongly felt is education reform. In fact, it credits them with the drastic change in acceptance of school choice movements over the past two decades. His wife Betsy, has been called a general in the voucher movement, due to her involvement in Advocates for School Choice and All Children Matter. The couple’s involvement in these organizations reflects their conservative principles. These principles are not without their controversy, however, as highlighted by Steve Lambert’s refusal to accept the DeVos funded ArtPrize award due to the sponsor’s view on LGTB rights.

Dick DeVos (born Richard Marvin DeVos Jr., October21,1955) is a Michigan based businessman and philanthropist. A alumnus of the Forest Hills public school system and Northwood University, Dick has been involved in Amway, the family business, from the time he was a child. His first official position in the Amway Corporation began in 1974 where he oversaw a large grow in international sales. He left for some years to serve as CEO of the NBA team the Orlando Magic which his family acquired in 1991, only to return to Amway as President in 1993.

Today Dick DeVos along with his wife Betsy focus a lot of their energy and wealth in philanthropic and political causes. These include Dick’s unsuccessful bid to be governor of Michigan in 2006, and funding an activism in favor of school Vouchers. Dick and his wife Betsy live in Grand Rapids Michigan with their four children.

Helene Morrison – Woman With A Mission

Helene Morrison was appointed San Francisco’s SEC administrator in 1999. For three years prior to this, she had been head of SEC’s Enforcement Division. Of course the SEC investigates and sues people and or companies who defraud investors. Morrison stayed with the SEC until 2007. Before this, she was on the other side of the fence – defending clients being sued by the SEC.

For the first ten years of her law practice, she was with the San Francisco law firm Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. She became a partner in 1991. Her specialty was business litigation, defense of private securities actions, and SEC matters. As well she conducted internal corporate investigations.

She served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun in 1985 and 1986. For two years previous to that Morrison was law clerk to the Hon. Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. To read more about Helane’s impressive career path, visit her LinkenIn profile.

Morrison is now the Managing Director, Principal, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Member of Executive Committee at Hall Capital Partners, LLC. They build investment portfolios for endowments, foundations, and individuals. This is a company run by women, Kathryn Hall, Sarah Stein, and Helene Morrison. The women say that flexibility, resilience, and diversity are the keys to their success individually and as a company.

All throughout her career, she has been a top level executive in an essentially male world. She succeeded in a big way for women although that was never her consideration. Helene Morrison has become quite the role model for women who are as tough, feisty, and honest in business dealings as she. Some women make excellent warriors and she is one of them.

Somehow through all of this, Morrison developed a keen sense of justice and a world view that showed the inequities of a system that was totally out of control. She also occasionally let loose with some sharply humorous observations about certain investment companies.


North Korean Dictators Versus Yeonmi Park: A Bitter Battle

Yeonmi Park did not choose her birthplace wisely. North Korea in the 1990s experienced a famine that killed millions. In truth, North Korea has never been a pleasant place to live, since it emerged after World War II when the Soviet Union and the United States decided to divide the Korean peninsula between them. For example, North Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the dynasty still in control of North Korea today, decided to attack South Korea in 1950. Ultimately, both the United States and China were drawn into this war, which led to the deaths of about a million North Koreans. Yeonmi’s “brainwashing” by the regime started soon after her birth in 1993. One of her earliest memories is of her mother telling her to keep her thoughts to herself, and that if she did so much as whisper, the birds and the mice would hear her. You would think that arithmetic in grade school might be a subject relatively free of propaganda, even in North Korea. But Yeonmi Park recalls one of the story problems she was assigned in her math class. It said, “Imagine that you encounter 10 Americans. Understandably, you kill five of them. How many Americans will be left?” Yeonmi might have chosen her parents more wisely, also. Actually, they were relatively wealthy. But in a desperate attempt to deal with the terrible economic conditions, Yeonmi’s father smuggled metals into China. He was arrested by the North Korean regime and sent to a prison labor camp. Her mother left Yeonmi behind with her sister when she tried to get her husband released from jail. Yeonmi was 8 years old. She and her sister survived on a diet of bugs and plants. When her mother returned, they manage to escape to China. Yeonmi expected some relief from her sufferings. In fact, things got worse. Her family fell into the hands of human traffickers. She was threatened with rape, and her mother protected her by offering herself as a substitute to the rapists. Nevertheless, Yeonmi became the “mistress” of her purchaser. In 2008, Yeonmi and her mother escaped from China by way of the Gobi Desert, on the way to Mongolia. They were desperately cold. For the first time in her life, she had negative thoughts about North Korea’s leader in her youth, Kim Jong-il. Eventually, Yeonmi and her mother managed to make it from Mongolia to South Korea, where she lives today. Even in South Korea, Yeonmi has faced some difficulties. But she has learned English, studied at Dongguk University in Seoul, and become a prominent spokesperson against the current North Korean regime under Kim Jong-un She has become so prominent, partly by appearing at the Women in the World Summit in London, that the North Korean government has released a video on a government web site of NK News denouncing her. Yeonmi is also the author of her recently published memoir, In Order to Live.