Rev. Starsky D. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God’s vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is currently president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation and board chair for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).
Deaconess Foundation is a faith-based grant making organization devoted to advancing child well-being in St. Louis through racial equity and public policy change. Since 1998, the Foundation has invested more than $85 million to advance its mission. With Wilson’s leadership, the Foundation is building a movement for child well-being through philanthropy, advocacy and organizing. In 2018, Deaconess opened the 21,000 square-foot Deaconess Center for Child Well-being, a community action tank. With the Children’s Defense Fund, the Foundation sponsors a network of Freedom Schools hosted by local United Church of Christ congregations.
From 2008 through 2018, Wilson led Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community), an inter-racial, inner-city congregation. There he led activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage, while more than quadrupling worship attendance and annual giving. He also established The Beloved Community Conference to resource social justice ministries and Sojourner’s Truth: Celebration of Preaching Women.
During the Ferguson uprising in 2014 after the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., Missouri’s governor appointed Wilson to lead the Ferguson Commission. In 2015, they released the ground-breaking ‘Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity’ Report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility. In addition to NCRP, he serves boards for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Chicago Theological Seminary, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Saint Louis Children’s Hospital and the Forum for Theological Exploration. Wilson is an advisor to the Democracy Fund, Let America Vote and the National Voter Protection Action Fund.
Rev. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana, Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and is currently completing his doctoral thesis, entitled The Truth of Reconciliation: Leadership for American Apartheid, at Duke Divinity School. For his public theology and ministry, Wilson was awarded Doctor of Public Service and Doctor of Divinity degrees honoris causa by Saint Louis University and Eden Theological Seminary. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Rev. Wilson is married to Dr. LaToya Smith Wilson, a dentist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. They are raising four children in St. Louis.