• Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety - Motor Vehicle Administration

  • Category: Safety 

    Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety - Motor Vehicle Administration

    The Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety is presented annually to an AAMVA member jurisdiction employee or other individual whose primary function is directly associated with highway and traffic safety efforts and who has had a distinguished career in this arena. The individual can be currently active or retired. One award is presented for achievement in highway safety in Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and one for achievement in highway safety in Law Enforcement (LE). This award is presented at the Annual International Conference.

    Nominations must be from a chief motor vehicle or chief law enforcement administrator only. In the event that the chief administrator is the nominee, the nomination can be submitted by a deputy administrator. Each jurisdiction agency can submit a nominee for each category (MVA and LE) but can submit only one nominee in each category (MVA and LE).

    Selection Criteria

    • Extent of lifetime achievements
    • Impact on highway safety


    Karen Grim, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

    Karen Grim Headshot

    Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Deputy Commissioner Karen Grim’s distinguished career in safety, particularly in driver’s licensing and secure driver record data sharing, is unmatched. Recognized by AAMVA in 1998 for her groundbreaking work on the Driver’s License Compact and Non-Resident Violator Compact, Grim has long championed the fight against serious traffic offenders wherever they may be licensed. Right after her high school graduation in 1973, Grim took a job as a data entry operator for the Virginia DMV.

    After 44 years, an associate’s degree, several professional certifications, and one dozen roles throughout the agency, Grim will retire in March 2020 as the deputy commissioner for Operations and as one of the most effective and well-respected leaders on the DMV executive team and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Grim’s wide range of experience and knowledge gives her a unique perspective revered by agency stakeholders. She is recognized as a subject matter expert by members of the Virginia General Assembly, law enforcement, the motor vehicle industry and associations, and the judiciary.

    Grim is credited with cultivating what has become, over time, a critically important and equally strong relationship between DMV and Virginia’s court system. In particular, Grim was instrumental in the original design and development of the interface used by courts to electronically transmit conviction and suspension-related data to the DMV. This system, which replaced antiquated and inefficient paper submissions, dramatically streamlined the process and ensured timeliness, accuracy, and consistency in recording data on customer driving records.

    Active in AAMVA, Grim has been dubbed the “mother” of the Driver’s License Agreement—a national reciprocal program of all states for cooperation to promote highway safety and provide data sharing and security standards for driver licenses and identification cards. Recently serving as the chair of the Driver License Compact Board, she provided experience, knowledge, and most importantly, leadership to the effort of advancing one driver, one license and to highway safety. Grim was elected by AAMVA peers and served as president of AAMVA’s Region 2 Board of Directors and has held several other leadership roles on AAMVA committees and working groups developing best practices and model legislation.

    As DMV’s primary liaison with Donate Life Virginia, Grim has strengthened the partnership between the two organizations. By generating the support and enthusiasm of the DMV’s more than 900 front-line employees, she is helping save lives. Of the approximately 4.29 million people who have registered as organ donors in Virginia, about 3.96 million designated their willingness through the DMV.

    Grim is keenly aware of advancement opportunities made possible early in her career by female leaders at a time when few women held management positions. In recognition and appreciation for trailblazers before her, she has forged a commendable path of her own and continues the mantle by making a concerted effort to impart knowledge, empower, and pay it forward to future generations.

     Past Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety - Motor Vehicle Administration Award Winners

    • 2019 - Chuck DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
    • 2018 - Scott Stokes, Idaho Transportation Department, Division of Motor Vehicles
    • 2017 - Fred Zwonechek, Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles 
    • 2016 - Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State
    • 2015 - Kim Snook, Iowa Department of Transportation 

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