Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets leader fired by board

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Nov. 23, 2012

The Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets organization is "in transition" following the abrupt departure of its executive director, Sandra Kennedy, who was terminated "for cause" by the group's board of directors last month. Weeks after Kennedy's dismissal, a representative of the Main Streets' board filed a police report alleging that a former employee had misappropriated funds from the group.

Kennedy, who had led the organization for six years, was fired on Oct. 17, according to the Department of Neighborhood Development, which works with the Main Streets groups.

Yvonne Ruggles, a Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets board member, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that the organization is in a “period of transition” and conducting an internal investigation.

“We are not at liberty to further discuss this transition as it relates to personnel matters and an ongoing investigation,” Ruggles said.

On Nov. 9, a representative of the Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets organization filed a report at the Area C-11 police station alleging a misappropriation of funds. The police report’s narrative, obtained by the Reporter, does not name Kennedy or the representative.

According to the report, the representative said a former employee of the organization “may have taken and misused funds from the program.”

The report continued: “Victim reports that the employee has been terminated but, at the time of termination, the board did not realize the full scope of the misuse of the program’s funds.”

The representative also told police she could provide financial statements “indicative of misappropriation and theft of funds.”

A Boston Police spokesperson said the department could not comment on the matter, but said no arrests had been made.

The city has established 20 Main Streets organizations, which provide the local businesses with technical assistance in improving storefronts and promoting local events to showcase the business district.

“The vast majority are performing and thriving,” said Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). “And we have had in the program now two organizations that have had issues with their executive directors and associated or alleged misappropriation of funding.”

According to the Jamaica Plain Gazette, the executive director of the Hyde Jackson Square Main Streets was accused of financial improprieties and left the nonprofit in 2011. The board for that organization hired a pro bono legal attorney and a new executive director, and is now “back on [its] feet,” Dillon said.

Dillon said DND is working with all the Main Streets organizations to have them provide financial reporting and they’re setting up training for board members to better inform them of what to look for and oversee the organizations’ finances.

“We’re taking this extremely seriously,” Dillon said Tuesday.

Ruggles added that the Bowdoin-Geneva group's board of directors has reorganized the executive committee to “more effectively fulfill the mission of the organization and support the business community in its efforts to promote our thriving and dynamic commercial district."

While there is no interim executive director at Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, the city’s Office of Business Development has been providing assistance to businesses in the area, city officials say.

Bowdoin-Geneva received its Main Streets district designation in 1996. At the time of her appointment six years ago, Kennedy, who lives in the neighborhood, had been a member of the Main Streets board since 2004.

Kennedy and other board members were not immediately available for comment. On Friday afternoon, the phone number for the Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets appeared to be disconnected, and an email seeking comment bounced back.