The Rev. Starsky Wilson, 39
The Rev. Starsky Wilson is equally at home navigating the halls of power and standing arm-in-arm with protesters, making him an influential voice for justice in St. Louis.
He puts his faith into action as head of the Deaconess Foundation, a Christian fund that focuses on aiding children and strengthening local nonprofits. His work for the group draws on years of experience at the United Way and the Urban League as well as in his ministry at St. John’s United Church of Christ in St. Louis.
The dual role is fitting, Reverend Wilson says, because his congregation struggles with the same challenges that Deaconess seeks to address. "People who make decisions about where millions of dollars will be deployed to impact social change should have proximity to the issues and the hurts that those dollars are trying to be responsive to," he says.
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That philosophy guided him through the turbulence in nearby Ferguson, Mo., after the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer. Reverend Wilson joined in protests and has served as co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, created by Missouri’s governor to assess racial inequity in the St. Louis area. The Deaconess Foundation gave $100,000 to support community organizing by local nonprofits responding to the crisis.
Reverend Wilson is encouraged by the trust-building that’s taken place since the unrest in Ferguson but says there hasn’t been enough change: "Not enough deliverables for people who are in distress. Not enough shift in legislation and regulation."