Certification Update

Dear YPAD Community, 

November 3, 2022 was a hard day for our company. YPAD’s reputation and my character were attacked repeatedly online–mainly in the form of posts that I was blocked from seeing or from responding to. I understand that people have questions about where YPAD is going since its founder and some former Advisory Panel members have started a new organization called NEAMA, but online attacks are not only uncalled for– they are cruel and uninformed. There are many factual errors in the statements being circulated, but of greatest concern is the statement indicated that no financial compensation was paid to any individual when I acquired YPAD. I reached out to NEAMA’s board to try to rectify this but as the writing of this letter, I have not received a response. 

I want to pause here to say that I believe with all my heart that there can be more than one organization and more than one way to help raise the bar for our industry. In fact, there should be many! I welcome the participation of all organizations, new and old, who want to improve experiences for children. 

While it's not in my nature to reply to rumors and negativity, I have spent much time reflecting and in conversation with peers in this industry who reached out to offer support. I am sharing this with you today so you can have the opportunity to hear the facts of how I acquired YPAD, and its future. 


From 2015-18, I was a Visionary Sponsor of YPAD which is a cash and in-kind sponsorship of $25,000/year. (YPAD was the educational arm of a non-profit organization called EDIFY.) 

  • In December of 2018, the founder and board approached me to let me know YPAD would be shutting down because it was not manageable and could not pay its bills. 

  • They asked me if I would acquire the YPAD courses and certification and keep it going. 

  • During our discussions on whether we could acquire the courses, it was made clear that you cannot buy a not-for-profit business.  Since it takes 6 to 9 months to get approval from the IRS to form a new not-for-profit entity, the only way to quickly acquire the courses and keep the services of YPAD going, was to use a for-profit business. Everyone agreed.  

  • I also said that I would have to make it more streamlined–a background check, CPR/First Aid, and passing the course–in order to make it manageable and they said they understood. The founders and the board just wanted to see it keep going. We all did. 

In January of 2019, before I would agree to complete the  purchase of the assets, I required that the founder obtain written consent from everyone who provided the educational materials I was purchasing. I was provided with documentation and was told that every contributor had signed off to give consent to the transfer.

 Between 2019-2022:  

  • I paid the founder $83,750.00 in downpayment and royalties. 

  • I paid the founder an additional $31,234.03 for consulting, content creation, and teaching.

  • I paid the Advisory Panel a total of $23,218.58 for consulting, content creation, and presenting. 

  • In total, I have paid $518,174.00 in expenses to keep YPAD going. This includes staff salaries, founder royalties, Advisory Panel consultant fees, technology platforms for course delivery and testing, plus covering the costs of background checks, support services, etc. 

If some members of the original Advisory Panel feel they were not compensated at the time of acquisition, they should raise that concern with the founder. It was the decision of the founder on how to divide up and distribute the money I paid for the content.  Anger toward me is misdirected. 

The company has run at a loss which I have personally funded because I believe in the mission. I have been nothing but generous to this cause…in a way that no one else was/is willing to fund. No one on the Advisory Panel was interested or able to take it on.

Challenges and Changes

When I bought YPAD, I sincerely thought background checks, CPR/First Aid, and passing the course would be sufficient to uphold the meaning of the YPAD certification, but have since realized it’s not. 

In October of 2021, allegations came out in our industry that were stunning and nobody knew how to respond. It was a whole new world of scrutiny and expectations. The Advisory Panel raised concerns that not all of our YPAD certified educators were following the code of conduct consistently. Together, we responded as best as we could by opening up free support services for the whole industry, developing a 5-tier relational accountability for our certified educators, and adding a link on our website to share potential concerns about any of our certified educators. It felt like the industry was on fire. Our website traffic went up 837%–we were not prepared for the influx. 

By April of 2022, I decided to close new enrollment for certifications until we could build better front end vetting and accountability. This was announced by email, on our website, and in our certified educator FB group. With new enrollment at a pause, I pondered the best path forward. My insight after running the company for three years made me wonder if YPAD needed to go back to its original non-profit model of volunteer oversight, even though that’s part of what made it unmanageable. I contacted the founder and offered to sell YPAD and all its original content back to EDIFY for $100.00. Additionally, I offered to personally contribute $20,000.00 to help fund early operations, to help raise additional needed funds, and to go back to being a Visionary Sponsor. 

We were moving down that path, but after several months, it did not work out.  I made the decision to dissolve the Advisory Panel and to redesign YPAD. Several of the Advisory Panel members and the founder made a decision to start NEAMA, which I have welcomed in our community. As I said in the opening of this letter, I firmly believe that there can, and should be, many organizations doing this work!   

Current Status and Future Plans

I want to be very clear that we have not ended YPAD certification. We have continued all educational and support services for YPAD certified educators. We have not ended our report-a-concern link, we have just limited it to YPAD certified educators. We haven’t missed a monthly connection chat, an email, or support call.  


The reason we have not yet reopened our certification course for new enrollment or recertification is because many of our former Advisory Panel members have asked us not to use their course or certification content.  I have honored every request, but this means we now have to rebuild the course. 


YPAD is not going anywhere. We are reimagining what is possible from what we have learned, starting by redefining our acronym to Youth Protection Association of Dance. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an association is a group of people organized for a joint purpose. YPAD’s joint purpose will be two-fold: 

  1. Developing free and low cost educational resources about how to improve safety and wellness in our classrooms that will be available to the whole dance community. We believe everyone should have access to YPAD educational resources even if they don’t want to become certified, or are not interested in all of our topics.  

  2. Rebuilding our certification content and certification model for improved standards and accountability. The education awareness and recommended standards will be shared regularly through YPAD's ongoing industry-wide seminars, Connection Chat series for certified educators, and collaborations with organizations who also are widening their lens to acknowledge there is much work to be done.

YPAD still does not, and will not, operate hotlines or tiplines. There are many quality organizations that do that already. 


I am as committed as I ever have been to bringing awareness and education to the dance industry that makes children’s lives better and working with other organizations who do the same. I honor your contributions and commitment as YPAD certified educators, and I know the past year has been complex for many. Thank you for sharing space in this special and dynamic community. I encourage you to not give up on the collaboration and positive behaviors it takes to create a better and safer dance industry. I am here with you to live out inclusive, friendly and fact-based actions in our classrooms and outside of them, to be the change that we want to see in this industry and the world. I hope to continue receiving your support in carrying out this mission, together. My email is MistyLown@gmail.com and I welcome your personal questions, concerns, and/or ideas.  



Misty Lown