About us

We watched in disgust, disbelief, and pain as migrating 

children and families were separated and dehumanized.

In the summer of 2018, hundreds of grannies and grampies, from all over North America, traveled to the US-Mexico border in McAllen,Texas

What we saw motivated us to fight on.

Grannies Respond is a grassroots movement, which formed in response to the separation of families seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States, in spring 2018.  As news spread of immigrant children being separated from their parents - at that time a hallmark of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy - a group of outraged grandmothers in New York State decided it was time to act.

They formed Grannies Respond/Abuelas Responden, and put out a call on social media for others to join them in a six-city, 2,000-mile trip to McAllen, Texas, home of the largest U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention center for undocumented immigrants, where they planned to protest.

The 30 Grannies and their supporters departed from Beacon, NY on July, 31, 2018 in two 15-seat vans and a camper. By the time the Grannies’ caravan reached the border, the group had picked up participants from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana; they converged along the route, driving vans, RVs, cars, trucks, busses — anything, really, with wheels and a motor (there was even a motorcycle). They were a diverse lot, but they all agreed on these basic demands: the immediate reunion of all families, an end to the detention of immigrants and their families, and due process under the law for all immigrants requesting asylum.

In McAllen, members participated in 24 hours of protests and vigils at the U.S. Border Patrol Processing Center and in volunteer service projects with local charities and aid groups. Some crossed the border to bring vital supplies to immigrants waiting to cross into the U.S., where they will apply, in many cases, for asylum, having escaped violence in South and Central America.

Grannies Respond worked in conjunction with Veterans Service Corps and Lawyer Moms of America, and was supported by hundreds of community members and organizations on the ground, including Angry Tias & Abuelas, Catholic Charities, and La Posada Providencia.

Where are we now?

The struggle continues. Since returning to their homes, the Grannies have continued their work, individually and collectively by sharing their stories and raising awareness of the harsh conditions and indignities facing those fleeing violence and abuse in their own countries.

Grannies Respond chapters have formed in many states and communities. Together, we have formed the Overground Railroad, a network of helpers who assist immigrants at bus stops across the country as they make their way to family members, sponsors, and community hosts who will house them while they await immigration hearings.

We advocate for compassionate and dignified services for asylum seekers on their bus routes and at shelters. We have supported medical organizations at the border by sending medical professionals to provide much needed assistance through Doctors Respond.

Our NYC chapter, Team TLC NYC, has provided humanitarian assistance including a warm welcome, vital essentials, food, and clothing to the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers that were bussed from Texas to Port Authority Bus Terminal during several intense months of 2022 and into 2023. They are supported by over 900 New Yorkers who stood up to help. Through many grants and individual donations, they are able to meet this challenge and do this amazing work.  

The original Grannies and Grampies who went to the Border in 2018, along with the Media folks who traveled with us.        (click)

Grannies Respond Board of Directors

Catherine Cole

Executive Director

New York

Catherine made a change in her life and obtained a degree in International Relations in 2016 and interned with the International Rescue Committee, never realizing that in July 2018 she’d be heading to the border to protest the separation of children. Upon return from our caravan, she saw the opportunity to turn our efforts into a nonprofit organization so that many of these volunteers across the country could work in unison for the benefit of asylum-seekers. In 2023, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Grannies Respond!

Lynne Iser

Board Chair


Lynne was fortunate to be on the original Grannies journey to the border, and afterwards helped organize Elder-Witness, in Philadelphia, to call attention to unfair immigration practices.  She serves as President of Elders Action Network, and coordinates their climate finance campaign, and was the founding Director of the Spiritual Eldering Institute.

Valerie Carlisle


New York

Val retired from teaching and became a full-time activist, especially for immigrant rights. She is the lead in our local Hudson Valley Chapter of Grannies Respond, as well as Treasurer. Her life has been greatly enriched  through her work with immigrants. Member also of Witness at the Border.

Julie Dolan



Julie is a retired elementary school teacher. Traveling to the border with the Grannies Respond caravan was her first post retirement action. Julie now helps the Grannies behind the scenes managing the website. She is also making use of her TESOL/ESL credentials teaching English to adult Refugees.

Elisa O’Callaghan


Elisa is an activist and advocate for immigrant and human rights. She is the founder of CALM Dolls for migrant children. Elisa is the daughter of 2 migrants from Mexico and Ecuador. 

Roya Salehi


Roya is one of the co-founders of Grannies Respond, who organized the original trip to the border in 2018 in response to the separation of families. An immigrant herself, Roya is deeply passionate about our mission and is an advocate for justice everywhere. With a background in education, Roya is a former teacher who remains equally passionate about educational technology. She collaborates with educators to make a positive impact on student outcomes.

Andrea DeGeroge

New York

 Andrea was a member of the original journey to the border. She created a doc with the help of two young filmmakers, From Beacon to The Border, about the powerful journey.

 She now is a member of our Team TLCNYC, and has been aiding newly arriving asylum seekers since 8/22.

Kate Reynolds


Kate, a new resident of mid-coast Maine is a recently retired Louisiana-based university professor of special education. She began working with the New Orleans (NOLA) Grannies on their leadership team early in the fall of 2018 greeting and serving asylum seeking bus travelers as they stopped in the city on their way north. Just before COVID hit, she joined nine other NOLA Grannies for a week of work at the border camp in Brownsville,Texas during March 2020.

Danielle Reiff

Washington DC

Danielle is a peacebuilder, leader, and Baha’i. She specialized in political transitions and is a vocal advocate of women’s leadership, gender equality, nonviolence, and unity in diversity. Danielle is in the process of retiring from a 20 year career as a diplomat with the U.S. Agency for International Development. In 2022, she created the Peacebuilders initiative to promote empathy, dialogue, and other forms of nonviolence during a volatile time in the lead-up to the 2024 U.S. Presidential election. You can learn more about Danielle and her work at www.peacebuildersunite.com

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Maxine Bookbinder


Pixie Holbrook


Pixie is an almost-fully retired special education teacher having worked in rural, suburban and urban schools in CT and MA. Pixie and her husband (recently deceased) have been committed to many causes including campaigning for progressive legislators, stopping wars, calling for racial justice, changing a local high school mascot that insults Native people, stopping a gas pipeline intended to run through our rural towns and stopping the use of high-stakes school assessments that particularly hurt students of poverty and second-languages. She is the mom to two married children, both adopted many years ago from El Salvador. She has traveled extensively in Peru and Mexico and is heading to Guatemala for a service project soon.

Have you considered joining the Board?

 Board Members Emeritus

Dan Aymar-Blair


Kathleen Mellon


Susan Midlarsky


Clara Masters