Recognizing Our Best: Jean Adero
Being an agent of change is what Jean Adero does best, whether it’s in her role at Cox Automotive or thousands of miles away in her native country of Kenya.
By day, she helps employees accept and embrace transformative new initiatives at Cox Automotive. But Adero's nights and weekends are often spent advancing another cause — the charity she founded called Read Across Africa.
Adero uses her innate empathy and compassion to Bring Out the Best in Others — both home and abroad — traits that have earned her Cox Enterprises’ highest honor, the Governor James M. Cox Award.
The award was created by Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor, to recognize employees who live our company values and exemplify our company's Purpose to Empower People Today to Build a Better Future for the Next Generation.
Caring Breeds Commitment
Adero works as a manager of change management for Cox Automotive's Inventory Solutions group to assess where the company is and where it wants to be, and then develop a strategy to get there. She visits with employees to understand their concerns about change and educate them about why it’s happening.
While working on an initiative at Manheim, a Cox Automotive brand, Adero helped auction workers embrace new technology that moves cars around the lot more efficiently. Roughly half of Cox Automotive’s employees were affected by the change. Over a three-year period, the vehicle management initiative resulted in a savings of millions of dollars.
Read Across Africa
Adero moved to Atlanta from Kenya after she graduated high school to attend Morris Brown College. In order for her to make the move, Adero's mother gave up $10,000 — her entire life savings — to support her.
Before coming to work at Cox, she dedicated herself to extending the same educational opportunities to others, by improving literacy in rural Africa. In 2011, she partnered with Books for Africa, a global nonprofit, to receive nearly 22,000 books. She and her sisters then renovated a house that once belonged to her parents into a functional library. After several years of hard work, Read Across Africa opened in 2015.
She returns to Kenya four times a year to check in on the library and its nine staff members. Read Across Africa is open six days a week and is available to the entire community. It offers after-school programs to improve literacy, encourage imagination and make a positive impact in students’ lives. The library has become an influential beacon in the community.
“When a child learns to read, the whole family is positively impacted,” said Adero. “The ripple effect is amazing, and now it’s a place where adults come to read the newspaper. We have child care for younger children and programs to teach children to read. People can connect and get away from their everyday lives.”
Adero said she would like to expand Read Across Africa to five libraries this year, some of which would be new and some of which would be partnerships with existing organizations. The children in her programs are flourishing, and their grades indicate that kindling a love of reading is paying off.
Keisha Duck, vice president of talent, learning and culture at Cox Automotive, said Adero inspires everyone around her.
“You can't ask for somebody who represents Cox any better than what Jean does,” said Duck. “I think we are all honored to be in her presence. We think about how we live our lives and how we can make a difference. And you look at Jean, and you say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it.’”
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