Ms Leighton is Chief of the Labour Migration Branch for the International Labour Organization. She serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Migration and has expertise in the fields of international law, labour migration, human rights, and economic development. She received her LL.M degree from the London school of Economics and Political Science, London, England in 1987. Ms Leighton has conducted global and field research into best practices and the linkages between human migration and development, including impacts related to climate change. Before joining the ILO, Ms Leighton taught on law faculties in Asia, Europe and the United States and authored numerous publications.
She served as an adviser and consultant to international institutions, government, and non-profit organizations, and has led research and policy projects with academics, government agencies and local experts on migration in the Americas, Africa, Central Europe and Central Asia. Most recently, Ms Leighton co-founded the American University of Central Asia’s Tian Shan Policy Center and was Professor of law, following her service as the United States Fulbright Scholar in Kyrgyzstan. She served as the Munich Re Foundation Chair on Social Vulnerability for the United Nations University-EHS Institute, Bonn, Germany (2009-2012), and Director of the Center for Law and Global Justice Human Rights Program at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Early in her career, she co-founded the NGO Natural Heritage Institute based in San Francisco, leading policy programs related to environment, migration, corporate social responsibility, and human rights.