Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature profiles of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.
Tami VandenBerg is a business woman, a community leader and an activist willing to take enormous risks, blending a love for community, event organizing, the arts and helping vulnerable people.
VandenBerg is co-owner of two popular neighborhood pubs in Grand Rapids — The Meanwhile and The Pyramid Scheme — and has successfully breathed new life into Well House in Grand Rapids, which was at risk of closing in 2012 after 35 years of housing the homeless. Well House has now purchased four additional houses under VandenBerg’s leadership, doubling capacity for permanent housing.
As one of few female bar owners in the city, VandenBerg has created 60 jobs in the last six years with her business partner brother and has opened the stage to countless entertainers. VandenBerg also co-founded Ladyfest, an annual showcase of women musicians and artists in the area.
She continues to work toward ending the stigma against those who use drugs or have HIV. She has chaired the board of the Grand Rapids Red Project, which spearheaded efforts to reduce the number of new HIV cases in Kent County, and she helped fund and organize the DecriminalizeGR campaign to lessen penalties for marijuana possession in the city.
She sits on the Mayor’s Gun Policy Task Force, is a member of Cure Violence and formerly served on the host committee for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Green Gala.
VandenBerg’s many accolades most recently include receiving the 2013 Good to Great Award from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.