Q&A with Karen Grim
Former Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and winner of the 2020 AAMVA Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety—Motor Vehicle Administration
What accomplishments from your career are you most proud of?
I was with the Virginia DMV for a little over 46 years. I started right out of high school and spent my entire career there. One of the projects I’m most proud of is that I led the effort to work with the court system to receive conviction data online. Virginia was one of the first jurisdictions to do this, and it had a big impact on highway safety because the information you’re getting from the courts this way is much timelier and more accurate, so you can take action and deal with a driver as events occur.
What has your involvement with AAMVA been like?
I first got involved with AAMVA about 30 years ago when a colleague invited me to a conference. I went and saw the value of AAMVA, and I became more and more involved after that.
Back then, in order to be president of an AAMVA region you had to be an agency head. I asked why, and it turns out there wasn’t a good reason—it had just always been that way. I expressed interest in serving at a regional level, and they decided to give it a try. Now it’s common for someone other than an agency head to hold regional positions, and I think that makes a lot of sense at the regional level where it’s all about networking and getting to know your neighbors.
How does it feel to be honored with the AAMVA Lifetime Achievement Award?
It’s hard to put into words. When I was told, I was totally shocked. I never expected that AAMVA would honor me in this way, at the national level, and I truly appreciate it. All the time I put in at the DMV wasn’t just about going to work every day. It was a passion; it was my life.
Congratulations on your recent retirement! What have you been doing in your free time?
I like doing just about anything that has to do with home decorating. So I’ve been reading magazines, watching HGTV, shopping for home decorating projects and then actually doing home decorating projects! I also tend to a 35-year-old horse and joke that I am now my dog Lucy’s personal assistant since I’ve been at home so much.