Leadership & Staff

Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson

Children's Defense Fund

The Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson is president & CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), pursuing the vision of a nation where marginalized children flourish, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive. Since 1973, CDF has been leading the movement to build power for child-centered public policy, informed by racial equity and the lived experience of children and youth.

Dr. Wilson is board chair for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and vice chair of the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). He also serves boards for CDF Action Council, Duke Divinity School, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and Sojourners.

From 2011 through 2020, Rev. Wilson was president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, a faith-based philanthropy for child well-being and racial justice in St. Louis. Under his leadership, Deaconess constructed and established the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, a community action tank engaging more than 15,000 citizens annually. From 2008 through 2018, Dr. Wilson also pastored Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community), an inter-racial, inner-city congregation related to the United Church of Christ.

After the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., Wilson and the church hosted the #BlackLivesMatter Freedom Ride to Ferguson and served as the welcome center for #FergusonOctober. In service of community healing, Wilson co-chaired the Ferguson Commission. In 2015, they released the ‘Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity’ Report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility.

Dr. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana, Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Ministry from Duke University. For his public theology, he was awarded Doctor of Public Service and Doctor of Divinity degrees honoris causa by Saint Louis University and Eden Theological Seminary, respectively. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Starsky is married to Dr. LaToya Smith Wilson, a dentist and child advocate. They are raising four children.

Follow Dr. Wilson’s activism, philanthropy, and ministry at @RevDrStarsky and @ChildDefender.

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