Jewish Vocational Service to take over Boston Center for Adult Education

The Boston organization had all but closed up shop after several former employees were accused of theft.

Jewish Vocational Service said Wednesday it would merge with the Boston Center for Adult Education, whose 86-year run helping people expand their horizons ended last year following the alleged theft of nearly $2 million by two former executives and a part-time worker.

JVS said the center’s biggest asset is its Arlington Street headquarters, which JVS will use to expand its adult education, training, and employment services across the region.

The building, where the center offered courses ranging from cooking to computers, “could serve as the home of new technology, innovative labs, and programming that reflects the growing industries and occupations in Boston that need to be opened up to a more diverse and economically challenged workforce,” JVS said in a statement.


In addition, JVS said it would create a $3 million fund to support programs and serve new communities using investment assets from the center.

In October, when the center announced it would end classes and special events, board chairman Dean T. Hara said the organization was losing money due to declining enrollment and had “reached a point that is not sustainable.” He said the board would reevaluate the organization’s future.

The decision came three months after former executive director Susan B. Brown and comptroller Mark Mitchell, a Saugus selectman, were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on larceny charges. Brown’s business partner, Karen Kalfian, who briefly worked for the center in 2005, faced a similar charge.

Brown and Mitchell allegedly falsified financial entries and lied to the board of directors. Prosecutors said $1.7 million vanished from the center over eight years. The organization was stripped of its tax-exempt status.

The defendants pleaded not guilty and were released on personal recognizance. Their cases are pending.

The center said in October that while the fraud had a significant financial impact, it was not the reason it stopped offering classes. Instead, the decision was based on “major changes in the overall adult education environment.”


Most of the center’s staff left the organization after it ended programming last fall. Several stayed on while the organization, working with consultants, mapped out its next step.

Jewish Vocational Service in Boston was started in 1938 to help Jewish immigrants enter the workforce. It now provides employment and career development services to a diverse base of clients, and partners with employers on hiring, training, and retention of employees.

Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.