Jean Donovan was born to Patricia and Raymond Donovan, who raised her in an upper-middle-class home in Westport, Connecticut. She had an older brother, Michael. She attended Mary Washington College in Virginia (now the University of Mary Washington) and spent a year as an exchange student in Ireland at University College Cork, deepening her Catholic faith through her contact with a priest there who had been a missionary in Peru.
Upon the completion of her master's degree in business from Case Western Reserve University, she accepted a position as a management consultant for the Cleveland branch of the nationwide accounting firm, Arthur Andersen.
While volunteering in the Cleveland Diocese Youth Ministry with the poor, she decided to join the Diocesan Mission Project in El Salvador. She was accepted into and completed the lay-missionary training course at Maryknoll in New York State.
Donovan traveled to El Salvador in July 1977, where she worked as a lay missioner in La Libertad along with Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun. The pair worked in the parish of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in La Libertad, providing help to refugees of the Salvadoran Civil War and the poor. They provided shelter, food, transportation to medical care, and they buried the bodies of the dead left behind by the death squads.
On the evening of December 2, 1980, while returning home from the airport in El Salvador to pick up the Maryknoll Sisters returning from their regional assembly in Managua, Sister Dorothy, and Cleveland lay missionary, Jean Donovan and Maryknoll Sisters, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke were abducted, beaten, raped, and murdered by Salvadoran army soldiers. Their bodies were discovered in a ditch by the side of the road and buried by peasants in a common grave marked by a cross made of twigs.
Sister Jean Donovan is now buried somewhere in Florida.
Source of information: en.wikipedia.org, ursulines-roman-union.org