YPAD™ is an Association


1. a group of people organized for a joint purpose.

2. a connection or cooperative link between people or organizations.

As an association, YPAD™ is built on four building blocks as represented in our logo: training opportunities, certification standards, research development, and positive industry connections.

YPAD™ believes an education in safeguarding capacity-building should be available to everyone.

YPAD™ engages in research to develop best practices in dancer health and safety.

YPAD™ certifies dance educators and industry leaders by offering an earned designation that requires specific standards.

YPAD™ connects like-minded individuals who want to prioritize safeguarding students in dance.

YPAD™ works with individual educators, studio owners, events, colleges, researchers, experts, and industry professionals for brighter future in dance.

The YPAD™ Story

teacher and dance students
teacher and dance students

YPAD™ was initially created as an instructional and certification program, as part of a non-profit called EDIFY Movement, and its acronym stood for Youth Protection Advocates in Dance®. The program was founded by professional dancer, Leslie Scott Zanovitch, and a group of passionate advocates, in 2012. In 2018, the founder and board asked longtime supporter and original YPAD™ Certified Studio owner Misty Lown to acquire the program as it was not sustainable in the non-profit model. Misty acquired and updated the course in 2019 to create more accessible access to education and certification options.

By 2022, the needs of the industry had changed. It was time for a stronger standard and fresh direction for YPAD™. With the help of seasoned dance, health, and safety professionals, the existing business and original courses were retired. A brand new YPAD™ was created. Instructional designers, writers, and researchers were engaged, and a new company was formed along with a new identity: Youth Protection Association for Dance™. This new name was chosen to reflect that YPAD™ is a group organized with a common purpose–safeguarding dancers and empowering confident adults.

YOU are the difference maker. YOU are YPAD™.


Our deep appreciation goes to the following contributors:

Dr. Addie Briggs, MD, co-founder of Fitness DAWGS

Emily Bufferd, founder of The Young Choreographer's Festival

Jessica Michaels, founder of 3JOANNES SAFR

Erika Hogan, MS and founder New Attitude Performing Arts Center

Karen White, Senior Editor at INsight Magazine

Brett Titus, founder of LifeSpot

Holly Nieman, PT at Andrews Health Children's Institute

Dr. Kim Evans, EdD, retired superintendent, and co-founder of Fitness DAWGS

Dr. Andrew Jagim, PhD researcher at Mayo Health System

Denise Meyer, licensed educator and project manager for YPAD™

Stephen M. Potts, JD and member of The Texas Center for Legal Ethics

Dr. Sheyi Ojofeitimi, PT, DPT, OCS, CFMT, director of therapy services at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and co-founder of Dance Ready Project

Jenny Clark, MSW, LCSW, CSOTP, CFI, Stein Counseling and Consulting Services, Ltd

Emily Harrison, RD and founder of Dancer Nutrition

Joan Parke, JD, COO of the Boys and Girls Club–La Crosse

Dr. Jeff Russell, PhD researcher at Ohio State

Mathew Farmer, MFA, professor at Hope College

Katie Gatlin, MS, LPC, CCTP, CSTS, private practice

Dr. Danelle Dickson, PhD, owner of Performance Plus Physical Therapy, and co-founder of Dance Ready Project

Dr. Chelsea Pierotti, PhD, University of Colorado-Boulder

Tiffany Prout-Leitao, YPAD™ certified coach and founder Center Stage Dance Academy

Richard Smith, adjunct faculty at East Carolina University

Misty Lown, ME-PD and owner of YPAD™

Vanessa Terrell, YPAD™ certified coach and owner of The Pointe School of Dance

Julie Holt Lucia, YPAD™ content creator and former studio owner

Jill Williams, YPAD™ certified coach and president of Leap Studios

Cassie Scheevel, YPAD™ education coordinator

Tracey Wozny, founder STAR Leadership program

Carolyn Colleen, MBA, founder of Acton Academy Midwest

Cynthia Newland, MFA, former professor at Belhaven University

contributor portraits contributor portraits contributor portraits

Hear from these and other contributors in our education and certification courses

Emily Bufferd
Founder, Young Choreographer's Festival

“We must prioritize our students’ well-being and progress them only when they are ready to safely approach new ideas in mind, body, and spirit.”

Stephen Potts, J.D.
Member, Texas Center for Legal Ethics

“Studio owners, like all small business owners, don't need to "do it all" on their own. Organizations like YPAD™ can help.”

Carolyn Colleen, MBA
Founder, Acton Academy Midwest

“A culture of continuous improvement and a community of motivated, empowered educators committed to providing the best possible education to their students.”


Now accepting studio certification renewals and new studio certification applications!
Hurry! Applications for 2023-24 close December 31, 2023 and will reopen for 2024-25 on July 1, 2024.

ypad logo

YPAD™ is based in the United States. Though the education presented here is built upon U.S. standards, YPAD™ recognizes that there may be different standards in other cultures and countries across the globe. It is important to refer to the governance of your home country, state, province, or city to ensure consistent, legal compliance with the appropriate local regulations.

Are you looking for positive, practical resources to support your role as a dance educator, studio owner, or event leader?

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Copyright Youth Protection Association for Dance™ 2023
Youth Protection Association for Dance™ is a division of Educational Standards LLC