Stepping up for racial healing and reconciliation: Deaconess Foundation

Written by: Lisa Ranghelli

Date: May 02, 2018

“I wouldn’t be Starsky Wilson if I didn’t remind folks that [five] out of the five-top offices in the state are going to be up in less than a year. There are people zig-zagging across this state right now, campaigning for votes. What they’re saying to you is ‘I’m better than the next guy.’ ‘I’m better than the next woman.’ Until they ask ‘How can I serve you?” they’ve not engaged in the kind of subversion that’s required to heal our community and get us to true reconciliation and take us down the path toward equity.”

– Rev. Starsky Wilson
President and CEO

Deaconess Foundation
In a 2015 interview on St. Louis Public Radio

The Deaconess Foundation is a faith-based grantmaker devoted to ensuring that children’s well-being is a civic priority in the St. Louis region. Since 1998, Deaconess has invested nearly $80 million to advance its mission. With Rev. Wilson’s leadership, the foundation is building a movement for child well-being through philanthropy, advocacy and organizing.

Throughout his career, Rev. Wilson has been exercising public leadership on social justice issues. In 2014, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Rev. Wilson to lead the Ferguson Commission, a group of 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.

In 2015, it released the groundbreaking Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility. Under Rev. Wilson, the Ferguson Commission produced recommendations that all center on the critical need to unravel community fabrics largely created to promote segregation. Rev. Wilson and Deaconess aim to challenge the public and policymakers across Missouri to advance racial equity and engage the community’s voice.

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