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November 2014

Q&A with AAMVA's new president and CEO

MOVE catches up with Anne Ferro, the new president and CEO of AAMVA, who is fresh off her post as the former administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Congratulations on being named the new chief of AAMVA. What are your goals?

I took my first 30 days to listen, learn and assess what is working and how to best meet the Board’s expectations. There are many things working very well, such as State to State, CDLIS modernization and commercial driver testing. Strong initiatives also are underway to reinforce one driver, one license and advance fraud detection training for our member jurisdictions. In short, AAMVA has a strong suite of services and programs to serve our members’ interests and continue the financial strength of the organization.

What challenges are members facing?

Members face daily challenges and long-term opportunities: transportation funding, customer service, and meeting the governors’ and state governments’ expectations of lean budgeting. The past few years have been tough on states coming out of the recession, and they continue to do more with less.

Add onto that autonomous vehicles, young drivers, aging drivers and identity protection. With the exception of ‘driverless’ cars, these are not new issues, but they continue to challenge the motor vehicle community. The self-driving car is a new and exciting opportunity, and one on which administrators are coming together to ensure safety.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your position at the federal level?

Setting a clear framework for FMCSA to meet its safety mission. Congress has enacted a number of measures to improve commercial driver and motor vehicle safety in recent years. We set up a three-part framework in which to shape our priorities to meet federal mandates and raise accountability for safety among CMV companies and drivers. The three-part framework: raising the safety bar to enter the industry; requiring those operating trucks and buses to adhere to safety standards; removing the unsafe operators until they improve or get out of the business.

When did motor vehicle safety become important to you?

I did not come out of school—I received a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland—thinking I wanted to be in the transportation sector. But I learned through serving in the Peace Corps, serving in local government in Maryland, going through graduate school at the University of Maryland and working in my own community how important a sound, safe and balanced transportation system is to our quality of life. It’s essential for a person to get to a job, and for kids and adults to get to school. It’s at the heart of our quality of life in America and our freedom.

Have you always wanted to help your community?

I was probably 5, growing up in Larchmont, New York, when I first heard President Kennedy say the Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love. That challenge stuck with me. For me, it’s trying to make a difference. As I developed passion for transportation and safety in transportation, I’ve been eager to encourage others to be in the transportation field. It’s a great professional field to be in, and you can come from any walk of life and play a role. Before my appointment to FMCSA, I was the president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, and before that administrator of Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration.

Tell us about your time in the Peace Corps, where you served in the country of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. What did you learn there?

As a young Peace Corps volunteer, you think you’re going to save the world. Then, you learn that just influencing one person matters—my grandmother used to say “each one, teach one.” Certainly I came back with a deeper appreciation for our democracy and the opportunities we in the United States have to express ourselves freely and pursue endless opportunities. I follow the advice my grandmother gave me: Each one, teach one. Do your best to help that person right next to you.

AAMVA's President and CEO Anne Ferro chats with an AAMVA member during a session break at the 2014 AIC.

What do you do in your free time?

I spend time with my husband, Dan, and my two children, aged 24 and 22. I have several godchildren. I am trying to learn how to garden. I am also a big reader. I recently read and liked The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the transportation field?

Probably trying to get into the field of transportation, now that I know how exciting and dynamic it is.