Donor Spotlight: Wear advocacy and activism on your sleeve from Nancie Caraway’s pieces

Donor Spotlight: Wear advocacy and activism on your sleeve from Nancie Caraway’s pieces

Donor Spotlight: Wear advocacy and activism on your sleeve from Nancie Caraway’s pieces - ShopYWCA

The former first lady of Hawaii donated some personal pieces to Shop YWCA, and as you know, the stories behind the pieces make them so worth it. The two items - Fun and Formal, are looking for new closet homes to add more chapters to their story, and continue the legacy they hold.

Fun ‘ulu print mu‘umu‘u

This Hawaiiana piece is sophisticated and chic. It was designed with hand-printed fabric by Kalihi-based Nake‘u Awai. For the first time, Nancie wore this piece at a nonprofit event by Nā Kama Kai, an organization dedicated to empowering Hawaii’s youth by conducting and supporting ocean-based programs. 

As a mentor and advocate for women and girls, Nancie’s life work is inspired by the principle of ‘ohana - understanding that each individual’s dignity is worthy of community. The first lady supports efforts that advance gender equality and peace, action and resources to end domestic

violence and assault, policies to end human trafficking and shelters to provide sanctuaries and for traumatized youth.

In addition, as long-time residents of Mānoa and active members of the Mālama Mānoa and the Mānoa Chapter of The Outdoor Circle, Nancie and her husband Neil Abercrombie are neighbor allies in the preservation of cultural and environmental resources of the valley, and of the State. 

For these reasons and more, we are delighted to feature Nancie’s pre-loved pieces and honor her life work, which embodies the service and philosophy of Shop YWCA. 


Formal Paris Day Dress

This mid-length, navy-blue day dress by Irish designer Orla Kiely was Nancie’s outfit while in Paris, as part of a U.S. Congressional delegation. The dress is sleeveless, has a scoop neck design, and elegant as the cotton-silk jacquard pattern woven directly into the material. 

In Paris, this outfit visited many sites, including the official residence of the president of the French Republic, the Élysée Palace. Later on when Nancie became the first lady of the State of Hawaii, she made sure to use her platform to manifest and bring awareness to programs such as a public-private human rights partnership to launch the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

As an academic, Nancie holds a Ph.D in political science from the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, a B.S. in journalism from Columbia University and has authored academic papers in political theory, feminist theory, racial coexistence, environmental sustainability, film and literary criticism.

These clothes are not just beautiful pieces of garments, they are instrumental to international cooperation and creating a difference. 


It’s personal

Nancie’s record of activism to empower women and girls stems from reflection into her own personal story. She draws inspiration from her mother Ellen who suffered domestic abuse most of her life, and lacked access to shelters and services the YWCA now provides to all women.

And while her hourly job didn’t provide funds for expensive clothes, Nancie said her mom’s resourcefulness and keen eye for style gave her confidence to overcome and reach her full potential. It was this idea of dressing for success and grit that fuels Nancie’s passion today to give this confidence to as many women and girls, as her mom Ellen did for her. 

“I know firsthand how deeply all women need to feel worthy, and connected to communities to which they can contribute and grow,” Nancie said. “It’s my deepest hope that my pieces provide the resources, inspiration, and continuity to an extraordinary humane endeavor — one that provides peace and dignity for all those it serves.”

Shop YWCA is proud to feature Nancie’s pieces, and now they can be yours.


# # #

Nancie Ellen Caraway is the former First Lady of the U.S. state of Hawaii from 2010 to 2014. She is the spouse of former First Congressional District U.S. Representative and former Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie. They reside in Manoa with two beloved Shetland Sheepdogs — Kanoa and Promise, who bring joy to every aspect of their lives. Nancie maintains an active involvement in various nonprofits to continue her advocacy work and inspire activism.