Jim Priest is a husband, dad, attorney, author, CEO and ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. For over thirty four years he was a trial lawyer focusing on employment and civil rights law before joining the nonprofit Sunbeam Family Services as its CEO in November 2014. Under Dr, Priest’s leadership Sunbeam first adopted an “Employee First” culture resulting in being named one of Oklahoma’s “Best Places to Work” every year of his tenure. Under his leadership Sunbeam also grew from a $7 million budget agency serving vulnerable Oklahomans to a $14 million agency.
Dr. Priest’s gift of communication, both verbal and written, is well known and deeply appreciated whether it’s speaking to large audiences, facilitating small groups, or in one on one conversations. As a speaker, coach, trusted advisor and counselor, his humor, warmth and multilateral insights have made him an innovator in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors.
As a trial lawyer for over three decades, Dr. Priest represented major corporations, governmental entities, police officers, managers, directors, corporate officers, and victims of discrimination. He tried nearly 100 lawsuits in Oklahoma and surrounding states and was a sought after legal advisor and speaker at Bar conferences.
Dr. Priest is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene and has written three books, “Family Talk”, What is Your Fate?” and “Changed Lives, a history of Sunbeam Family Services” (co-authored with Bob Burke). He is a weekly contributor to the Oklahoman and Newsok.com writing a column called "Family Talk" that addresses issues relating to marriage, parenting and families.
Dr. Priest earned his Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University, magna cum laude and was a member of the National Championship Mock Trial Team. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Houghton College in Houghton, New York, where he was involved in student government and music outreach where he started and led a ten voice singing group that travelled throughout the northeast.
Most importantly, Dr. Priest is the husband of one, father of two, owned by a dog named Jeter, and is an elite, world class grandfather to his namesake grandson, James.