MJ Jean grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana where she developed a passion for intercultural studies and the arts. After gaining a rudimentary knowledge of governance and social sciences from Bryn Mawr College, MJ selected to conduct a rigorous study of international relations at University of Massachusetts Amherst (Certification in International Relations from the Five College Consortium and German Language Certification from the Goethe Institute, as well as obtaining a BA in Political Science and minors in French and Francophone Studies, German and Scandinavian Studies, and Modern European Studies). Recognized for her dedication to academic excellence and forward-thinking in transnational art exchange and politics, MJ was awarded fellowships to conduct ground-breaking research in transnational soft power exchange at universities in Paris, Stuttgart, and Chengdu, China.
After completing field study in Xi’an, China, MJ returned to the Philadelphia area in 2010, to develop her passion for grassroot arts nonprofits. Her leadership and marketing of the Philadelphia regional National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) program incited a participant boom from 780 online registrants to over 7,000 in 2014. Responding to community need and springboarding from Nanowrimo’s momentum, MJ and her colleague JR Wesley, the Editor-in-Chief of Crimson Melodies micropress, co-founded the Philadelphia Free Writers Association, which delivers in-demand resources and high-quality programming to over 200 area writers.
Ever responsive to the community, MJ serves as the Social Media manager for the nonprofit PALM Community center in Ardmore, and is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for arts education nonprofit Zenkaikon Inc. A lifelong mezzo soprano, MJ has performed requiems at Saint Eustache Cathedral in Paris, post-modern vocalises in Germany, Sacred Harp songs in San Francisco, Shaker hymns in the rural South, spirituals in New Orleans, and more recently, was the Executive Event Planner and Clinician of the Otakon Videogame Flash Choir in Baltimore.
Keeping her thumb on the pulse of international art exchange, MJ is the creator of the Soft Power Punch Blog, author of Snapshots of American Culture: Japanophilia and the Otaku, and has spoken about transnational media at conferences and conventions up and down the East Coast as well as in Las Vegas, NV.