Yanehiro earned a journalism degree from California State University, Fresno in 1970 and worked as a flight attendant before getting a job on the radio. She is one the first native-born Asian-American female journalists.
She had three children with her late husband John Zimmerman, who died due to a brain tumor. After his death, she began hosting and producing documentaries for public access stations KVIE and KCSM-TV. She has also hosted a series on radio station KCBS for many years as well as working for more than 20 years for KPIX.
She has been the Director of Multimedia Communications at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco since 2008. She continues to host charity events, work in video productions, and travels the world giving lectures and universities.
Among her many accomplishments the one she is most proud of is having been one of the original co-hosts of the ground-breaking magazine series Evening Magazine which aired on San Francisco's KPIX from 1976 to 1991. Yanehiro also co-hosted HGTV's Appraise It! for 5 years. She has also narrated numerous documentaries on the experiences of Japanese-American's during World War II, including the documentary Forced Out.
She is the president of Jan Yanehiro, Inc., a partner of Fair Advantage, the director of the Bank of Marin, a board member on Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation, a board member of the Center for the Pacific Rim at the University of San Francisco, a board member of the National Board of Visitors at California State University, Fresno, and a member of the Asian American Journalists Association, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
She has received several Emmys for her work, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award from the United Nations of San Francisco, was inducted into the Academy of Television and Radio Hall of Fame in New York City, is a Silver Circle Inductee of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003. She was also recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, and honored as an Outstanding Alumnus by California State University, Fresno.
She received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art University in May 2018.