He has fought crime on the streets of Kings Cross, he has overseen an anti-trafficking programme in Northern Thailand, and from next month he will champion the unborn and women facing unplanned pregnancy.
The Emily’s Voice board announced the appointment of Leighton Joyce as the new CEO of Emily’s Voice on Saturday to a crowd of 430 attending the Toowoomba gala dinner. The 39-year-old father of three was welcomed by founding CEO Paul O’Rourke, who has served in the role for the past eight years. Emily’s Voice chair Katrina Hobbs said Leighton’s appointment as CEO comes at a crucial time as there is a real need for pregnant women and their families to be valued and better supported.
“Leighton brings to Emily’s Voice a strategic skill set that will focus on ‘loving them both’ , mother and baby. We seek to be a positive voice that recognises the needs of the mother and the baby,” she said.
Leighton’s career began with the NSW Police Force in North Sydney and Kings Cross. In 2008, he was promoted to the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad as detective, investigating major and organised crime in NSW. It was in 2014, however, that he led a criminal intelligence operations team that would touch his heart deeply and point his life in a different direction. Leighton’s team that year was tasked with developing a strategy for combatting human trafficking – and indeed was successful on many levels.
But such exposure to the exploitation of vulnerable people rarely leaves you unaffected.
The following year, Leighton shifted his family to Thailand where, from 2015 to May this year, he developed, managed and directed a programme for Liberty Shared, a Hong Kong registered anti-trafficking NGO.
“I have worked with some of the most vulnerable in our world, from the murders of young children to the trafficking of girls. That is incredibly motivating for me. They needed a voice, they needed justice.”
Leighton explains how his heart for the vulnerable extended naturally to the unborn and their mothers, and that he started delving into the life topic while still living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“I had touch points with abortion over a number of years, but the most significant was when my wife, Anna, was 12 weeks pregnant with our youngest child, Gabriel,” he said.
“At the scan, we were told he didn’t have a nasal bone, which is an indicator of Down syndrome. We went back to our doctor to figure out what this meant, and she said this is a circumstance where people considered having an abortion. For Anna and I, that certainly wasn’t a consideration at all. It was very confronting.
“After a lot of prayer, subsequent blood tests, and a number of scans later, a nasal bone had developed and the blood tests returned a “Low Risk” result. But that just got me thinking, what happens with people who go on the advice of one incorrect scan?
“My father was born with a disability – he was born deaf – which was another confronting thought process. If he was in his mother’s womb today and they found out, what kind of pressure would his parents be put under? At that point, I’m not born, my children aren’t born, my nephews and nieces aren’t born. The effect of one abortion on generations is enormous.”
Leighton and his family are currently based in Melbourne where they attend Stairway Church. Anna is studying a Masters of Teaching and they both juggle the joy of parenting Gabriel, 2, Ezra, 6, and India, 9.
“I believe that life commences at conception and it is our responsibility to seek justice on behalf of the voiceless and most vulnerable members of our society. Having walked with God since my early teenage years, I believe in a God who loves and that there is no sin too big for his forgiveness and there is no evil in our lives that God cannot repair.
“I believe in a God who can turn hate into healing, broken into restored, and monstrous into magnificent.”
Leighton begins at Emily’s Voice on September 9.