Ex-Education Secretary DeVos, Walton brothers added to Hutchinson event

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,117 views 

Betsy DeVos

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will visit Northwest Arkansas next month for a political event hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

America Leads: An Ideas Summit” is scheduled for Oct. 19 and will be held at the Momentary in Bentonville. Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was announced as the keynote speaker in June.

Other speakers announced Tuesday (Sept. 13) include Steve Case, Revolution LLC, CEO and AOL co-founder and Runway Group co-founders Tom Walton and Steuart Walton.

Other speakers previously revealed include Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts and former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Hutchinson’s education and advocacy organization America Strong and Free Inc. is organizing the event. The organization said the event “will bring together thought leaders and policymakers from across the nation to discuss real, actionable ideas and policies that are impacting America with the goal to encourage problem-solving and practical solutions.”

DeVos was the nation’s 11th secretary of education from 2017-2021 under former President Donald Trump. DeVos resigned Jan. 7, 2021, one day after the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

In a letter to Trump, DeVos said the attack on the Capitol was unconscionable. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote.

DeVos served as chairman of the Windquest Group, a privately held investment and management firm based in Michigan. She is also the former chair of the American Federation for Children, the Philanthropy Roundtable and the Michigan Republican Party.

Case co-founded AOL in 1985, and the company became the largest, most valuable Internet provider in the world. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Revolution, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm that supports entrepreneurs at every stage of growth with Revolution Growth, Revolution Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Case was also recently named co-chair of the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The Walton brothers are the principals behind Runway Group, a diversified holding company in Bentonville that invests in real estate, hospitality and outdoor recreation in Northwest Arkansas. Steuart Walton is also the founder and chairman of Game Composites LLC, a Bentonville company that designs and builds small composite aircraft. He serves on the board of directors at Walmart, Flipkart, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Tom Walton was named the Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year in 2016 for his efforts in revitalizing northwest Arkansas downtown areas. He has been involved in many notable projects in Bentonville, including: the establishment of the 21c Museum Hotel, responding to the demand for downtown hospitality driven by Crystal Bridges and business travel; improving natural spaces such as Lake Atalanta in Rogers; and collaborating with NorthWest Arkansas Community College to provide culinary arts training.

“I have always believed that you shape the future by talking about principles and ideas and what makes America great,” said Hutchinson, who political pundits are mentioning with more regularity as a presidential candidate in 2024. He is term-limited from running for governor this year. “We are fortunate to have a strong group of leaders with experience on both the state and national level as well as both the public and the private sectors.

“Sec. DeVos is a strong proponent of freedom in education and she proved that during her time in Washington. Steve Case, Steuart Walton and Tom Walton have a proven track record of not only how intentional entrepreneurship can lead to public benefits, but more importantly illustrating what it means to be a partner in ideation.”