Jean Egan, a Long Beach educational innovator who helped hundreds of students succeed in school and on the job, has died. She was 56.
Egan died about two weeks ago at her home in Long Beach. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Chris Steinhauser, superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, said Tuesday, July 9, that Egan “contributed greatly to the lives of our students, including some of our most vulnerable. She leaves a tremendous legacy of service to our schools and to our city. We’re heartbroken over her loss.”
Former Mayor Beverly O’Neill called Egan “a strong community leader and innovator who had the great ability to bring people together to help students.”
In 1998, O’Neill appointed Egan to chair the Youth and Education committee of the Long Beach Strategic Plan. She worked with educators, community leaders and parents to develop goals to create the city’s educational plan for youth through 2010.
That work evolved into Egan founding BLAST, a nonprofit developing after school programs for children, many of them at-risk, so they would succeed in school and graduate.
One of her inspirations was to use college students as mentors to not only help younger children with their homework but also to listen to them about their problems.
BLAST — Better Learning for All Students Today — has grown from a handful of mentors in 2000 to more than 500 today.
Egan left BLAST in 2016 to become executive director of CaLL — or Career-Linked Learning — a nonprofit that engages business partners to support students in career awareness, preparation and training.
In an interview with Darick Simpson, executive director of Long Beach Community Action Partnership, on his television show Long Beach Lens, Egan described how much she enjoyed helping students through BLAST and CaLL. She said a big part of her job at CaLL was looking for corporate sponsors to help students through work-based learning experiences, such as internships, interviews, tours and informing them of what goes on in the real business world.
“I am persistent when it comes to helping children,” she said.
Egan was born on Sept. 22, 1962, in Chicago. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois in 1984 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1987.
She moved to California because of the weather and finally settled in Long Beach, where she married Geoff Garth. They had a daughter, Ann Garth, who was born in 1997 and will be a senior at Brown University in the fall. Egan and her husband divorced 10 years ago.
Egan also found time to get a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge in 1994.
In a Facebook note, Ann Garth said BLAST was “a testament to my mom’s faith in the power of education to change lives, and it has made a difference in the lives of many people, just as she did.”
She said, in the post, her mother was “an extraordinary person: funny, intelligent, kind and so much more.
"She was unafraid to dance, to laugh, to embarrass me in public," Ann Garth continued on Facebook. "She was the kind of person who made an impression as soon as she entered a room."
Garth added that she spent her career making the world a better place, because of her heart.
"She had an immense capacity for love, which was a blessing to all who knew her," she wrote. "She spent most of her career working to make the world a better place.”
Survivors include her daughter, Ann Garth; sisters Jan Duffy, Jo Ann Gindville and Judy Egan; brothers Tom and Terry Egan; five nieces and two nephews.
A memorial service is scheduled for 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Boathouse on the Bay, 190 N. Marina Drive.