Khalilah Burt Gaston shares experiences during Wheelhouse Talks Series

Khalilah Burt Gaston

For more than 20 years, Khalilah Burt Gaston has etched her career in nonprofit administration and philanthropy work, collaborating with civic and community leaders to develop programs and enrich the lives of her community’s members. 

Gaston, executive director of the Song Foundation , will share her expertise and insight at Friday’s Wheelhouse Talks Series presented by the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy in partnership with the Frederik Meijer Honors College. 

Stacy Stout, director of family-centered philanthropy at Steelcase Foundation, will join Gaston to discuss her career at the Song Foundation. The discussion begins at 5 p.m. on February 16 at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

Since 2022, Gaston has overseen the Song Foundation’s mission of building toward a more equitable future by investing in underserved communities and cultivating their ideas. 

Gaston told University of Michigan News that her career “has always been at the intersection of social impact with a focus on equity.” 

With a background in urban planning, Gaston’s work has been featured in Dwell Magazine, The New York Times, Chicago Public Radio and the Harvard Family Research Project. 

Prior to her current position, Gaston was program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she was the foundation’s lead architect of Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership, managing a grant portfolio of $500 million.

The Song Foundation was founded in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The nonprofit focused on delivering grants to small businesses affected by the pandemic. Gaston joined the foundation to help it branch into philanthropic efforts focused on equity. 

The foundation provided financial support in 2021 to Project Clean Slate, an initiative by the city of Detroit to help residents expunge their criminal convictions and improve access to employment, education and housing. 


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