Jean Forest was born in Manitoba and moved with her family to Alberta in 1947. She lived in Edmonton for the next 50 years. Here she was an active member in the life of the community and inspired others to leadership roles and community service. Jean served for 13 years as President and Managing Director of Jas-Day Investments Ltd., a company that owns and operates Mountain Park Lodges in Jasper National Park. She was also appointed as Director of Northern Transportation Co. Ltd. and CN Rail - crown corporations that were both privatized during her term on the board.
Jean's interest in education, as a former teacher and the mother of a large family, led her to seek election to the Edmonton Catholic Board of Trustees. She was elected and served as Trustee for nine years (1968 - 1977). She served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for three of the nine years. During that time she also served as President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association. In 1972, Jean was elected to the Senate of the University of Alberta and was elected Senate representative on the Board of Governors. Six years later, she was elected Chancellor of the University of Alberta and served a four-year term (1978 - 1982). Jean was appointed to Alberta's first Human Rights Commission in 1974 and to the Minister's Advisory Committee on the Constitution in 1978.
Jean was an active member in the life of her church at the local, regional, and national levels. She was the western representative on many committees formed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. She also served on the National Pastoral Planning Committee for Pope John Paul II's visit to Canada in 1984. She is past President of the Edmonton Archdiocesan Council for Women and past Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of Newman Theological College. In 1996, Jean was summoned to the Senate of Canada and served as Senator until 1998.
Jean retired to Victoria, British Columbia. There she is still an active in church work, volunteers as a tutor for immigrant children, and also served as a member of the Board of Island Catholic Schools.