Jean began her career appearing in regional theater at Seattle Repertory Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One of her best known roles is Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the CBS sitcom Designing Women. She gained critical acclaim for dramatic work with her portrayal of Martha Logan on 24. Jean recently appeared as Regina Newly on the ABC sitcom Samantha Who?, winning an Emmy Award for her work in 2008. In 2012, Jean was again nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Harry's Law.