Born in New York City, Jean Feraca graduated from Manhattanville College in English with honors from Harvard. She completed her M.A. at the University of Michigan where she studied with poet Donald Hall.
Jean began her 30-year career in public radio with National Public Radio affiliate WGUC-FM, then worked as a freelance reporter for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered before becoming Wisconsin Public Radio’s humanities producer. She hosted “Conversations with Jean Feraca” for thirteen years, earning the Distinguished Media Award from the National Telemedia Council in 1996 before launching the pioneer global affairs program Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders in 2003.
Jean is the author of three collections of poetry: South from Rome: Il Mezzogiorno, Crossing the Great Divide, and Rendered into Paradise, a memoir, and the blog, My Life in Widening Circles. In 2007 her memoir, I Hear Voices: A Memoir of Love, Death, and the Radio won the Nonfiction Award from the Wisconsin Council of Writers, named an “Outstanding Book” by the American Association of School Librarians and one of the year’s “Best Books “ by the Public Library Association. She was inducted into the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts & Letters in 2012.
Her poetry and articles have appeared in The Nation, American Poetry Review, the Iowa Review, the North American Review, Italian Americana, and in anthologies such as Helen Barolini’s The Dream Book.
Jean co-founded the UW-Madison Odyssey Project in 2003, a humanities program now in its sixteenth year that transforms the lives of people living near the poverty level. As one of its core faculty, she teaches philosophy and civic engagement and serves on the Friends of Odyssey Board. As a member of the Prison Ministry Project, Jean brings Odyssey Behind Bars into Wisconsin’s prisons, a program slated to go system-wide.