A self-professed “word nerd,” she majored in journalism at Howard University, worked on the student newspaper during the school year and took internships during the summers at large market newspapers. Soon after undergraduate school she attended and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she served on the prestigious Penn Law Review and was an editor and published author. After practicing law for several years, she conceived of the world’s first collaborative crossword puzzle, Kids Across Parents Down, and decided to launch. In less than a year, Jan launched her puzzle nationally, becoming the first African-American female syndicated cruciverbalist. In short order, the family puzzle became the #1 nationally syndicated family puzzle and the basis of a book series with a major publisher. Now, 15 years later, Jan continues to syndicate her work independently in newspapers and magazines, publish in kids menus for restaurant chains (such as Cracker Barrel and McDonald’s) and provide other content, efforts which have seen the total audience reach extend to millions of households around the globe. She is especially excited to have been selected by the planners of President Barack Obama’s Children’s Inaugural Ball to provide puzzles for the event and has always been deliberate about and proud of the diversity of subject matter that her puzzles bring to the public each week.
Then, a few years ago, Jan launched BlackCrosswords.com. Having established The Essence Crossword and The Ebony Crossword over a decade ago, Jan recognized that African-Americans have long felt disregarded by this American pastime, as mainstream crosswords historically have not focused significantly on the contributions of diverse people. In response to the worldwide demand from fans seeking more puzzles that reflect and celebrate the involvement — and often, dominance — of African-Americans in entertainment, sports, politics, literature, science and every walk of life, BlackCrosswords was born. (After all, why SHOULDN’T the answer to 1 Across be Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”?!)
Jan lives in the Chicago area with her husband and business partner Reginald.