top of page

Rev. Leslie M. Wilson

First Lady & Minister to Women

Office: (973) 678-1217


Rev. Leslie Marie Wilson identifies as an encourager, activist, organizer, trainer, advocate, strategist, collaborator, poet, scribe, preacher, faith/servant leader!

Leslie Watson Wilson is First Lady of Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church and is the former National Director of African American Religious Affairs (AARA) for People For the American Way. As the director for almost 14 years, Leslie was responsible for program planning, implementation of the two core programs that make up AARA: African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC – c3) and African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA – c4). She also created five new opportunities to inform and engage the 2500 plus faith leader membership: “Healing Grace – Shepherds Gathering: A Dialogue on The Black Church, Stigma, Prejudice and Homophobia”; VESSELS biblically based civic education and participation initiative; “Courting the Courts In Faith”; Micah Leadership Council for faith leaders under the age of 40; and, VASHTI health and leadership initiative for African American women and girls. Under her leadership AARA was essentially a ministry that worked with people of faith who believed in help and not harm, power and not pain, and hope in the face of hopelessness.

Recognized by the Center For American Progress as one of “15 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2015,” Reverend Wilson served as the national policy director for the Balm In Gilead and for nine years as the director of the Multicultural Programs Department of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice where she managed and developed La Iniciativa Latina (LIL), the Women of Color Partnership Project (WOCPP), and the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) which included annual planning of the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality for African American clergy and laity. Reverend Leslie has served as the national coordinator and field director for the National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the coordinator of the Public Policy Institute of the Citizenship Education Fund, the 501(c)(3) arm of the Rainbow. She is a master trainer, has received training by several institutions, has written 6 training curriculum (1 award winning) and has provided social justice, cross cultural communication, coalition building and more training to over 28,000 leaders almost exclusively within the African American faith community for over 30 years.

Formerly Leslie Watson Malachi, she is happily married to Reverend Melvin Eugene Wilson, Pastor/Teacher, Saint Matthew African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Orange, NJ. Leslie attended Southern University (Baton Rouge, LA) majoring in political science, Trinity University (Washington, DC) focusing on business administration, and graduated with a BA in Ministry from Richmond Virginia Seminary. A published poet, she also contributed writings to “Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama” and “These Sisters Can Preach” (volume 2), published by Sims Publishing Group. Leslie is the oldest and only female of nine siblings, the President of the Newark District AME Spouses, and serves as the advisor to the Women’s Missionary Society and Minister To Women at Saint Matthew. She starts each day with Matthew 5:16.

Rev. Leslie Wilson:

First Lady of Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church
Former National Director of African American Religious Affairs for People For the American Way

bottom of page