A top prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney's Office remains warm and hopeful, despite spending much of her career overseeing cases of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
In a letter Leora Joseph wrote to her 18-year-old self, the senior chief deputy district attorney touches on the importance of small acts of kindness and her relationships with friends and family.
As many other families celebrate graduations, Joseph’s advice could be useful for many other young adults.
Here's Leora Joseph's letter to her 18-year-old self
Wow! Congratulations. You’ve come so far. Remember this moment of accomplishment, feel strong and feel proud.
Those same skills that brought you to today will continue to serve you in what will become a great life.
Dream big. Plan to change the world and do something every day to make that happen.
But don’t forget the small things. Sometimes a smile, asking someone how they are – it’s those small acts of kindness that really do change the world.
Look at your friends. Hold onto them. You made it through high school together. You will go on different paths, but in this moment and everything leading up to today, you’re united. And nothing’s going to change that. Not anything.
Love your friends. But don’t get lost in them. Learn from them. Learn from everyone.
Listen. Listen all around you. But find your voice.
Speak out when it matters and stay true to yourself.
When a tree falls in the woods, it matters, even if no one hears it. It matters to that tree. It matters to that forest.
It’s okay to care about things that you think no one else cares about.
Love your body. Don’t be ashamed of it. Take care of it.
Chocolate ice cream, hot bubble baths cure many, many ills.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everybody needs help. And sometimes, people like when you ask them for help.
Mom and dad, all the fights about making beds in the morning, the parties you didn’t let me go to, the clothing you didn’t let me wear – I get it now. You were my biggest protectors, my biggest cheerleaders. You’ve given me everything. I hope I can make you proud.
Before Joseph joined the Denver District Attorney’s Office, she was in charge of the special victims unit, the domestic violence unit, the human trafficking unit, and the elder abuse unit for the 18th Judicial District under George Brauchler.
“One thing that has always amazed me about working with victims of sexual assault is the resilience,” Joseph said. “That ability to believe, to go on, to fight, to stand up for what true and right, to be strong in your convictions – it’s inspiring.”
Before moving to Colorado in 2012, Joseph worked for the District Attorney in Boston. There she ran the child protection team in the family and sexual assault unit.
As a line prosecutor, Joseph worked with many victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. Many of those cases were featured in the film “Spotlight.”
Joseph is the daughter of a Jewish Orthodox Rabbi. “Because faith is important to me and how I was raised, I understood how devastating the church crisis was to communities in Boston,” Joseph said. “It’s really hard to find faith. And what’s amazing is people do… when all else seems like it, it’s broken.”
Joseph has spoken and taught at Harvard Law School and Boston University’s School of Social Work. “I’ve been honored to serve the public,” Joseph said. “The call to service is something that, when you have it, it doesn’t go away. It’s something that stays with you and continues to motivate you and inspire you.”
However, Joseph says she is most proud of having three amazing children and a great husband. “And those are my real accomplishments,” Joseph said. “At the end of the day, they help me with what’s important.”