Jean received a B.S. in communications from the Arizona State University, and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. While at Georgetown she was the lead plaintiff in a groundbreaking lawsuit alleging sexual orientation discrimination against the school, which she won. Following her education she got a job with a Washington law firm, which led her to a post with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the government agency in charge of disaster management.
In 1988, she was appointed by Mayor Barry to be chairperson of DC Domestic Partnership Commission to study the possibility of providing benefits to non-married partners of city employees. Lorri Jean was the co-founder and chief operating officer of a Los Angeles-based advertising company serving the e-commerce industry.
She was eventually promoted to an associate directorship of FEMA's largest area, San Francisco, which she held from 1989 to 1992. She left FEMA to take over the helm of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, already a powerful force in Los Angeles, and set about making it the leading gay life complex in the world.
Over her tenure at the Center, she prioritized fundraising and private donations to make it less dependent on government grants, quadrupling the budget to $32 million and raising a substantial endowment to keep it running for years. Her work increased client visits exponentially and prompted a proportional gain in volunteer numbers.
She oversaw building operations on several major gay and lesbian health clinics, on the world's first HMO/managed care gay medical center, on a youth center focusing on the homeless, and on a $7 million cultural center. She helped develop the AIDS ride from L.A. to San Francisco, the nation's largest AIDS fundraiser, and co-founded the National Association of LGBT Community Centers.
During Jean's term the Center was voted the best-run gay center in the country. Recognizing that Jean was a one-woman dynamo of administration, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force jumped at the chance to hire her as its executive director. Jean had been running her own startup ad agency after she left the Center, but answered the NGLTF's call and will head the advocacy group for the foreseeable future.
She and her partner since 1995, attorney Gina M. Calvelli, live in Los Angeles.