Q&A: Tami VandenBerg


Tami VandenBerg.

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Tami VandenBerg is co-owner of the Meanwhile Bar and The Pyramid Scheme bar and music venue, and she also runs the Well House, a nonprofit that provides housing for people who are homeless.

VandenBerg has served on numerous boards and task forces in the city of Grand Rapids focused on drug policy reform, ending homelessness, reducing violence and increasing small business opportunities.

Biggest career break?

When Mark Sellers decided to invest in our music venue concept, making The Pyramid Scheme possible.

Proudest moment?

The day the Meanwhile opened. Opening up my own business changed everything for me. Taking control of my economic future provided tremendous freedom.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Always assume that any negativity happening with an individual or group has nothing to do with you.

How did you make your first dollar?

Babysitting and selling lemonade

Most-treasured possession?

My home

Dream job?

Basically what I am doing now. Although, I would also like to write a few books and screenplays.

If I were president for a day, I would . . . ?

Give clemency to every single person who is incarcerated for a non-violent drug charge.

Last book you’ve read?

“Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the Drug War” by Johann Hari

Last thing you Googled?

“Which states are most likely to legalize marijuana next”

Your worst habit?

Staying out too late

To unwind, I like to . . . ?

Take a hot bath and read. Get a massage.

Dream vacation?

Return to Havana, Cuba

Favorite food?


Person you most admire?

Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance 

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