Lansing grew up in rural Montana. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Montana and a master's degree in education from Stanford University. She moved to Portland in 1961.
She pioneered performance auditing in Portland and Multnomah County. She served as Multnomah County auditor from 1975 to 1982, and Portland auditor from 1983 to 1986. She was one of the first two women elected to Multnomah County government, and was the fifth elected to Portland government.
Lansing has published several books.
- Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 1851-2001. Oregon State University Press, 2003.
- Campaigning for Office: A Woman Runs (out of print). R & E Publishers, 1991.
- 101 Campaign Tips for Women Candidates and Their Staffs (out of print). R & E Publishers, 1991.
- Deadly Games in City Hall (fiction/murder mystery). Skylark Press, 1997.
- My Montana: A History and Memoir, 1930 to 1950. Inkwater Press, 2007.
- A Czech Family Heritage: Bohemia-U.S.A. - 1765-1996 (out of print)
- with Ole J. Lokberg: The Beck Family Book: Norway-U.S.A. - 1700-1989 (out of print)
- with Fred Leeson: Multnomah: The Tumultuous Story of Oregon's Most Populous County. Oregon State University Press, 2012.
Lansing is married and lives in southwest Portland with her husband, Ron. The couple raised two daughters.
- Anderson, Jennifer (November 4, 2003). "Tireless Portlander tells it like it was: Big book tells the story of the city’s origins, politics and players". Portland Tribune. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- Griffin, Anna (August 16, 2012 (print edition August 17, p. B1)). "Jewel Lansing shares more local political history and insights with new book about Multnomah County". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- "Jewel Lansing". City of Portland. March 12, 2007. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2012.