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Who Are We

Click on the names in blue to read more about each of our team members.


Kathie OCallaghan  Kathie O’Callaghan

President & Founder

Why I started Hearts & Homes for Refugees

There was a NEED (humanitarian crisis),  a VOID (absence of any support), a PRECEDENT FOR SOLUTIONS (refugee resettlement through community co-sponsorship during 1970s Southeast Asian refugee crisis) and there were ample RESOURCES (people of goodwill able and willing to put their energy– time, experience and resources– toward a solution.  

Anne McCool Nixon Anne McCool Nixon


Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

My own family, as with most other Americans, can trace our history through an immigrant journey. It is a vital part of our past, it is what has made us the country we are today. Now, in the wake of an unprecedented crisis, the U.S. needs to continue to be a world leader and share in the global responsibility of offering refuge to those in need. I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees to take a stand for those who have been cruelly displaced, and against those who believe that we are a nation that should turn our backs on outsiders.

Peter Collery  Peter Collery

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

As a matter of self-interest, I believe that immigration strengthens and enriches our country.  As a matter of morality, I believe we have a duty to ameliorate the suffering of those whose lives have imperiled by war or oppression. Hearts and Homes represents a tangible way to act on these sentiments.

Steve Grieder  Steve Grieder

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

I consider immigrant and refugee rights an issue that goes to the heart of what being American means today. We are a glorious mix of people from around the world drawn together by the fact that our rights and freedoms are not subject to gender, race, creed or national origin, and we are replenished and strengthened with the arrival of new Americans every year.  We cannot shut that door behind us.

LoriHosp Lori Kapner Hosp

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

As our nation’s policies have become less welcoming of (and even hostile to) those who need to share our homeland, I discovered in myself a need to take action. I grew up hearing about my ancestors who came to America to escape persecution, and life experience has strengthened my belief that diversity must be embraced. We teach our children to be kind and inclusive; anything less is, well, not human. Our society, our economy, our well-being as a country and as a global “family” is at stake. Hearts & Homes for Refugees’ commitment to offer hope and help to refugees here in Westchester is a mission I am honored to support. As the sticker on my car says: “Immigrants Help Make America Great”.

Lisa Kiernan

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

I could not sit by and do nothing in the face of the humanitarian crisis.

Joan Morgan  Joan Morgan

Why I joined Heart & Homes for Refugees

I wanted to join Kathie O’Callaghan and her wonderful concept for Hearts and Homes for Refugees because I was very frustrated with the direction that politics in the U.S. were going. It was obvious that as the global refugee crisis was getting direr, the U.S. response was becoming more insular and less kind and welcoming.  This response went against everything in my nature and everything I have stood for all my life. I believe in offering a hand, helping others to thrive, that there is enough for all of us, that our differences make us great. I am not threatened by “other.” I grew up believing that the mix that is America is the bedrock of this country. I believe in the poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty and I will not let some rogues come along and derail the American dream and all of us who believe in it without fighting like hell to stop them.

Donna Shirreffs  Donna Shirreffs

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

Upon retirement from the State Department, I followed the news of the Syrian refugee crisis and searched for some small way to help.  I was so pleased to be introduced to Hearts & Homes founder Kathie O’Callaghan, who was happy to put my skill sets and passion to help those in need to good use.

Robert Tracy  Robert J. Tracy


Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

When Kathie O’Callaghan me to get involved with Hearts and Homes for Refugees, I jumped at the chance. I view Hearts & Homes as a wonderful way to focus some of the community’s unique energy and generosity toward the most vulnerable. At a time when some political leaders encourage citizens to close our doors and fear strangers, the best antidote is for local communities to welcome refugee families. I believe that welcoming refugees strengthens our community as much as it helps those refugees seeking a new home. With the overwhelming magnitude of the refugee crisis, many people in our area are looking for concrete ways to help those forced from their homes. Hearts & Homes for Refugees gives us an opportunity to put their concern into action.


Ambassadors of the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) spread the word about the welcoming movement by sharing their stories and convictions about refugee resettlement. 

ReshadAhmadi    Reshad Ahmadi

Why I became a WRI Ambassador

I wanted to pay forward what I have received – the support and the warm welcome from the community. I am from Afghanistan, and in our culture, whenever is someone takes your hand and helps you, when you reach somewhere you become the next person to take someone’s hand – a human chain to reach somewhere. This is my way of reaching out my hand to those who come behind me. There are thousands and thousands of people outside of this country, stuck in the narrow pipeline of the immigration and refugee system. I want to advocate for a smoother, faster, clearer path to help those who are in real danger and want to reach safety.


 Jane Dixon

Why I became a WRI Ambassador

I was blessed to grow up living in a safe, loving environment and it has made me keenly aware of the many refugees and displaced persons who do not have that good fortune. In 2015, I became a member of the Westchester Refugee Task Force, hoping to be able to do something constructive about the growing refugee crisis. In 2017, I became co-chair of a co-sponsoring group of volunteers who were organized to assist an Afghan SIV family. When Hearts & Homes created the Westchester Refugee Initiative, I knew I wanted to be part of a dedicated, energetic group hoping to engage more people in helping Westchester become a welcoming county.


Amy Robertson

Why I joined Hearts & Homes for Refugees

When I moved to Westchester in 2017, I was looking for a way to get involved with refugees and the welcoming movement. I hold a Master's degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and started my career many years ago as a fundraiser for the International Rescue Committee. Thanks to my husband's job with the United Nations, our family left New York and moved overseas. We lived three years in Ecuador, five in Honduras and five in Lebanon, arriving just as the Syrian crisis was unfolding. I freelanced as a food and travel writer and then as a non-profit consultant, writing and editing reports for various UN agencies. My time in Honduras and Lebanon reinforced my commitment to help those fleeing violence and persecution, and when I came back to New York, I was thrilled to find Hearts & Homes for Refugees. I joined the organization in April 2018, on a part-time basis.