Jean grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and studied undergrad at Northwestern University before earning her MA in History from the University of Iowa. She held multiple leadership roles in the League of Women Voters in the 1960’s and 1970’s—a time when policy reform was especially crucial for women’s equality.
Her dedication led to her being elected into the Iowa House of Representatives and Iowa Senate before running against Chuck Grassley for U.S. Senate in 1992.
After retiring, Jean earned an MA in Conflict Resolution from the McGregor School of Antioch University and was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2010, she co-founded 50/50 in 2020, an organization determined to increase women’s participation and representation in politics.
Today, Jean lives in Iowa City and believes that the greatest barriers are the ones within. She encourages women to recognize their power and employ it for the greater good.