Clara D. Priester holds a deep-rooted devotion to advocacy and ministry with survivors of domestic violence and incarcerated women. In 2011, she was appointed Executive Director for the Woman’s Board of Missions for the Pacific Islands. Now spanning 150 years, this vibrant, faith-based organization, is a compassionate ministry to women and children in crisis throughout Hawai′i and in China, Guam, Japan, Philippines, and Pohnpei. Within her servant leadership role, Clara builds, expands, and strengthens collaborations with allies to embolden women through advocacy, scholarships for higher education, shelter provision, emergency financial assistance, and mentorship.
Clara has served on the Board of Directors for the United Church of Christ Transition House, a safe house for women and children survivors of domestic violence, the O′ahu Domestic Violence Task Force, and the Joyful Heart Foundation Ohana. Since 2014, she has been a dedicated member of the Board of Directors for the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Engaging her own experience as a survivor of domestic violence, Clara heightens awareness of the dynamics and prolonged impacts of violence by frequently sharing her story. In churches across denominations, she has raised the visibility of spiritual abuse and shown ways the church can support survivors. As a facilitator of a cultural and spiritual-honoring life group that encourages self-compassion, self-regulation, and reconciliation, Clara mentors survivors and fosters rehumanizing lives that have been fragmented by violence.
Clara is completing studies in the Indigenous Studies Program at the Vancouver School of Theology, University of British Columbia, where she will receive dual Masterʻs Degrees in Divinity and Indigenous Theology in 2022.
A native of Hawai′i, Clara was born in Honolulu and raised in Wahiawa. For 29 years, she has been married to Dr. Dwayne E. Priester, her husband and most supportive friend. She is the mother of two adult sons, and is beloved by her five grandchildren who know her as “Gigi” and “Nali.”