Cleva was born and raised in Clinton, Tennessee. She graduated from Clinton Senior High School in 1972. The following Fall, she entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the Animal Science Department where she later received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science in 1976, which was also the year she met and married her husband, Dr. Ed Claiborne. He was finishing his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science as he was selected for the 1980 UTCVM class. She then entered graduate school at UTK in Food Technology and Science where she received her Master of Science in 1979. Cleva was then presented with the position as veterinary technician in Rural Practice at the UTCVM. During her time at the UTCVM, she received her Veterinary Technician’s license.
After Dr. Claiborne graduated in 1980, he and Cleva moved to Greeneville where he established himself as a veterinarian. They have two children, Al and Heather. Al is an associate veterinarian at AMCG and Heather is a high school science teacher in Bellevue, OH. In 2008, Animal Medical Center of Greeneville was established and Cleva became the practice manager.
Her hobbies include caring for their dog, Duchess, their four cats, Fred, Barney, Bristol, and Martin, working in the yard and cooking. She also enjoys spending time with her three precious grandchildren, Bradyn, Willard, and Katy Beth.