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Contact: Sheridan Betts
Phone: (405) 496-6115

Betsy DeVos to receive OCPA’s Citizen of the Year Award

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2021)—Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will be the recipient of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affair’s 2021 Citizenship Award.

“Few people have done more to increase educational opportunity for children of all backgrounds, and done so under more challenging circumstances, than Betsy DeVos,” said Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “Thanks to her leadership and hard work, the lives of countless children have been changed for the better through school choice, and the conversation on education today is increasingly child-focused.”

“Betsy DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents,” said OCPA Board Chairman Larry Parman. “The work she has done has been as consequential as it has been challenging, because it required her to face-off against a status-quo system that fought tooth-and-nail against any change, no matter how vulnerable children were affected. I can think of few people more deserving of recognition and thanks.”

DeVos was selected as this year’s recipient by a unanimous vote of OCPA’s Board of Directors.

“I’m humbled to receive the Citizenship Award,” Devos said. “While I’m grateful for the honor, it shouldn’t be noteworthy that I spent four years putting the best interests of students above anyone and anything else. We should expect every education leader to work that way. I’m excited to return to Oklahoma to keep the momentum going on rethinking school, empowering families and helping every student thrive.”

Betsy DeVos served as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education after being nominated by former President Donald J. Trump, who championed school choice throughout his four years in office.

DeVos’ interest in education began early because her mother was a public-school teacher. As an adult, DeVos served for 15 years as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Schools, an experience that further informed her views on education.

Prior to serving as a cabinet member, DeVos was chair of the American Federation for Children, a national advocacy organization that promotes school choice. A leader in the movement to empower parents, DeVos has worked to support the creation of new educational choices for students in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Oklahoma’s Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program, and the Stay in Schools Program—which have helped numerous Oklahoma children obtain a quality education through school choice—are examples of the types of programs DeVos has championed across the nation.

Prior Citizenship Award recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; John Walton, son of Sam Walton and an avid champion and philanthropist for school choice; Dr. Tom Coburn; and former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

“This is our most prestigious award,” Small said. “It recognizes someone our board and staff feel is an exemplary citizen dedicated to integrity, advancing free markets, limited government, individual initiative, and personal responsibility.”

OCPA will present DeVos with the Citizenship Award at OCPA’s Citizenship Award Dinner on Wednesday, April 28 in Oklahoma City. The keynote speaker at the event will be sports journalist Jason Whitlock.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) is a free market think tank committed to advancing principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, individual initiative, and personal responsibility.

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(Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America)

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