Jean Iversen was born and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Her mother was a homemaker and volunteered for charitable organizations, while her father built custom homes throughout the area. It was a fairly idyllic childhood, with actual tree climbing and swimming all summer at the local park district pool.
Jean studied classical piano through her second year in college, then realized that she was far more disciplined at writing than practicing piano at a pace required to keep up with her peers.
She switched to journalism, graduating with a bachelor of arts from Columbia College Chicago. Unlike most of her suburban friends and family, she stayed in Chicago well past the two-years-after-college norm and has lived in six different zip codes (and counting) throughout the city.
After college, Jean served as acquisitions editor for book publishers such as Publications International, Dearborn Trade, and American Bar Association. The fact that she developed books on topics as wide-ranging as scuba diving, Six Sigma, and franchise law does not surprise her former colleagues, who referred to her as the “Jill of All Trades.”
Jean left acquisitions to write and publish the popular guidebook, BYOB Chicago, which sold 30,000 copies. She was featured by 190 North, Chicago Tonight, and too many regional media to mention, earning her the title of “BYOB Queen.” People like titles.
After criss-crossing the city and suburbs to publish three editions of BYOB Chicago, Jean leveraged her marketing, editorial, and PR expertise to serve as a communications manager for mid-size law firm Vedder Price and APICS, a nonprofit professional membership association. She also served as a consultant for several organizations, from AT Kearney to Association Management Center.
Jean’s fourth book, Local Flavor: Restaurants That Shaped Chicago’s Neighborhoods, was published in spring 2018 by Northwestern University Press’ Second to None Series. The book chronicles the histories of eight legendary Chicago restaurants and their respective neighborhoods. It shares the recipes, histories, and experiences of families who have owned neighborhood restaurants in Chicago anywhere from twenty to ninety years.
Jean currently creates marketing communications for a wide range of businesses and has published articles on Chicago restaurants and lifestyle topics in Crain’s Chicago Business, Time Out Chicago, Daily Herald, and others. Jean’s essay “Counting Cranes” appears in the 2019 Belt Publishing anthology, The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook. She is currently settling into yet another new zip code in Chicago and continues to pester restaurateurs for their life stories.