As an Oakland School Board member, Quan was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Title 1 Committee, representing large urban schools. She is Chair-Emeritus of the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education and served on the Executive Committee of the Council of Great City Schools Executive Committee. As a National Kellogg Foundation Fellow, Jean Quan traveled to cities throughout the United States and learned how cities partnered with their school districts to improve education.
She is the past chair of the Asian American Municipal Officials and currently a member of the US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, Central City Caucus, Big 10 California Cities, Emerald Cities (green jobs/technology) and Chair of the Local Government Commission focused on smart growth planning policy.
Quan is a former member of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) a violent pro-China group, which disbanded in the mid-1980s to better infiltrate the Democratic Party and support increased China/US ties.
In January 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Washington DC for a high-profile summit. Highlights of the visit included a private dinner with President Barack Obama one night and a big state dinner the next.
Among those of Chinese descent that were present at the dinner were Jean Quan and Judy Chu.
In 2011, Jean Quan visited Beijing.