Children’s Defense Fund leader headlines PC’s MLK Day event

Children’s Defense Fund leader headlines PC’s MLK Day event

One of the country’s leading advocates for child well-being and racial justice will highlight Presbyterian College’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Children’s Defense Fund, will deliver his virtual address – “A Call to Serve: The Generative Power of Grace and Love” – at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, via Zoom.

The CDF’s mission is to push for child-centered public policies at the federal level, particularly for children of color, poverty, and with special needs.

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

From 2011-20, he served as president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, a faith-based philanthropy for child well-being and racial justice in St. Louis, Mo. From 2008-18, he also pastored Saint John’s Church, an interracial, 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. To promote community healing, Wilson co-chaired the Ferguson Commission, which issued the Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity Report calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being, and economic mobility.

Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Xavier University, a master’s of divinity from Eden Theological Seminary, and a doctor of divinity from Duke University. He has also earned honorary degrees from St. Louis University and Eden Theological Seminary.

A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Wilson is married to Dr. LaToya Smith Wilson, a dentist and child advocate. They have four children.