The Reverend Starsky D. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God’s vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, pastor of Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community) and former co-chair of the Ferguson Commission.
Deaconess is a faith-based grant making organization devoted to making child well-being a civic priority in the St. Louis region. From a corpus of approximately $50 million, the foundation has invested more than $76 million to advance its mission in the area. Starsky’s leadership has birthed a dynamic community capacity building model, aligning policy advocacy, organizing and community engagement with grantmaking.
Through Saint John’s, Wilson has led congregational 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. There he established The Beloved Community Conference to resource local social justice ministries and Sojourner’s Truth: A Celebration of Preaching Women.
In 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Rev. Wilson co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, a group of sixteen citizens empowered to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help the region progress through issues exposed by the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr. On September 14, 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.
Starsky serves national boards for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, the United Church of Christ Cornerstone Fund, Chicago Theological Seminary, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and local for the United Way, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Teach for America-St. Louis and the Mayor’s Commission on Children, Youth and Families.
Starsky earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana, master of divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing the doctor of ministry degree from Duke University’s Divinity School. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Eta Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Starsky is married to Dr. LaToya Smith Wilson, a dentist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. They are raising four children in the city of St. Louis.
In recent years, Rev. Wilson’s leadership has been honored with numerous awards including:
- 2016 International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies Bill Hale Award
- 2016 Eden Seminary’s Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree
- 2016 Saint Louis University’s Martin L. King., Jr. Community Leadership Award
- 2016 Chronicle of Philanthropy “40 Under 40” Award
- 2015 Saint Louis Award
- St. Louis American “Person of the Year”
- 2015 National Urban League Young Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2015 St. Louis Business Journal Diverse Business Leaders Award
- 2015 NCCJ St. Louis Brotherhood Sisterhood Award
- 2014 Xavier University of Louisiana’s Young Alumni Award
- 2013 St. Louis Children’s Hospital Community Advocate of the Year Award
- 2012 St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council Open Door Award
- 2012 YMCA of Greater St. Louis Human Dignity Award