The group she was speaking to was the Islamic Society of North America. Even if there were non-Muslims in that crowd, they would know enough about Islam to understand what she was talking about.
Furthermore, she gave context to her use of the term, which was part of a quote from the prophet Muhammad:
There is a man who once asked our beloved prophet … has said to him, “What is the best form of jihad or struggle?”
And our beloved prophet … said to him, “A word of truth in front of a tyrant or leader, that is the best form of jihad.”
Yes. A “word of truth”. Not violence. Not holy war. The statement from the prophet was that a “word of truth” is more effective and preferable to violence when it comes to opposing a tyrant. Even the dimmest person would understand the point she was making, instead of just reacting in knee-jerk fashion to the use of the word “jihad” without understanding the context.