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Matthew VanLiere

Director of Operations

Matthew VanLiere has a BA in Criminal Justice and 29 years of experience in law enforcement. He is also a certified recovery coach. Matt worked with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department in narcotics investigation (undercover work), bench warrant enforcement, general road patrol, and crisis negotiation. He was an honor guard member for his entire law enforcement career.  During his years of service, he received a Life Saving Award and a Meritorious Service Award. He is also an FBI-certified crisis negotiator.

Matt has a personal journey with addiction recovery. He has been in recovery for over a decade and is active in the recovery community. His personal journey, combined with his safety and security experience, came together at the right time to secure his position at Sanford.  Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus was opening and they were looking for someone to build the safety team. Of course, Matt fit the bill!

As Director of Operations, Matt oversees the safety, culinary, hospitality, purchasing, transportation, and facility teams.  He says it is really about coordinating the day-to-day operations of the facility and staff under the “One Sanford” concept. He also works closely with the clinical, admissions, and medical teams. This is everything from helping admit a new client to washing dishes, fixing a centrifuge, to policy and protocol writing. He enjoys every aspect of the job, including the chaotic times! The Sanford mission gets Matt up every morning and inspires him to work. Matt says, “I know that what we are doing every day is making an impact on people’s lives. I love the variety. There is a real team aspect at Sanford. It helps that we all look at solving problems together. We can quickly work through any issues or hiccups that come up and we always manage to get through it.”

Matt has a passion for treating first responders, and is instrumental in spearheading the expansion of first responder programs and outreach. He is passionate about reducing the barriers and stigma for first responders to receive mental and behavioral healthcare. He is an advocate for this population and excited for the services that Sanford offers first responders and Veterans.

In his free time, Matt enjoys spending time with his family. They love to camp and stay at their vacation home in Iron. He loves hockey and is a huge Grand Rapids Griffins fan. He also spends time with his children, enjoying their activities, like sports and choir. He also likes completing home improvement projects.


Matt says, “A quote I like to share is ‘nothing changes if nothing changes.’ This is a common quote in the recovery community. An interesting story – when I first started working at Sanford, we were renovating Sanford West and I was cleaning out an old patient room. I found a recovery coin that had the quote on it. I carry it every day. This is something I have always believed in with my own recovery journey.”