Jean Swanson is a coordinator of Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), an organization dedicated to the welfare of the Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. She believes that "The way to 'revitalize' (the) community would be to restore purchasing power to the low-income residents who live (there): Raise welfare rates, end the barriers to getting on welfare and boost the minimum wage."
Swanson also founded and works with the group End Legislated Poverty, a British Columbia coalition with stated aims to "educate and organize in order to make governments reduce and end poverty".
She was also previous national chair of the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), and was also the recipient of the 2007 Carleton University's Kroeger College Award for Citizenship and Community Affairs, an award recognizing "creativity, persistence, and overall leadership in demonstrating the value of a locally based initiative." Swanson was chosen for the award "for her tireless work against poverty in Canada. (She) is a private individual living in Vancouver who the jury concluded best represented the qualities of commitment, leadership, and community ties."
Swanson is also the author of Poor Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion.
- Swanson, Jean. Downtown Eastside Seeks Foreign Aid, The Tyee Magazine, Oct 18, 2007
- Swanson, Jean. Why poverty is worse than it was 30 years ago, Canadian Dimension Magazine, February 21, 2006
- End Legislated Poverty homepage
- "News Release: Carleton University's Kroeger College Announces 2007 Winners of the Arthur Kroeger Awards", March 28, 2007 quoted at 
- Thobani, Sunera. Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada, University of Toronto Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8020-9454-6
- "Olympians, jurists, researchers among 113 new appointments to Order of Canada". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 July 2016.