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Cranston’s Cornicelli named Executive Director of Youth Protection Advocates in Gymnastics, a Non-Profit Dedicated to Keeping Youth Healthy & Safe

(Cranston, RI): Cranston’s Shannon Cornicelli, president and owner of Dream Big Inc., has been named executive director of the Youth Protection Advocates in Gymnastics ( Cornicelli, 38, also serves on Y.P.A.G.’s inaugural advisory panel.


Recently launched, Y.P.A.G. is a a non-profit organization dedicated to building empowered gymnastics communities to keep youth happy, healthy and safe, has launched.  Y.P.A.G. unites communities to educate parents, coaches and athletes on the emotional, physical and sexual safety of youth in gymnastics. The organization provides support, education and resources for those in need of help and healing to keep athletes, their families and coaches happy, healthy and safe in all gymnastics related environments.


“Given the current state of gymnastics it is crucial that we remember all of the positivity and focus on building a safe environment for gymnasts of all skills and levels,” said Cornicelli. “I am excited to partner with Y.P.A.G. and support its mission of protecting youth in the sport of gymnastics.”


“Shannon is someone who will not wait for others to make the industry a safer place, but will create the needed change herself,” said Y.P.A.G. Founder Leslie Scott. “Shannon’s commitment to the Holistic Wellness of young athletes and is not only needed but admirable.”

One of the top gymnasts to emerge from Rhode Island, Cornicelli has the distinction of being the sole individual (male or female) to own and operate three gymnasiums in the state and has been recognized by Providence Business News as one of the top Rhode Island women in business. In 2017, Cornicelli received the RI Ambassadors Award from the RI Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was honored by the CVB for bringing business to RI and adding to the local economy by hosting the 2016 Mardi Gras Invitation. She followed up with an even larger and more prestigious meet in 2017 – The Beauty & The Beast Invitational. The meet which incorporated both gymnastics and wrestling competition and drew more than 1,200 competitors, is one of seven events Cornicelli runs annually.

“Gymnastics builds inner strength, character, bravery, dedication, and compassion,” said Cornicelli. who operates two gyms in Cranston and one in Cumberland. “I have been so lucky to have had my sport as my backbone throughout my entire life. I have had the most inspiring coaches, lifelong teammates, and mentored and coached countless gymnasts. Y.P.A.G.’s mission fosters the belief that as coaches we are mentors and educators first and foremost. The mental, physical and emotional health of our gymnasts is our top priority. I am thrilled to play a role in such an important organization,” she said.

YPAG’s holistic approach helps coaches develop the gymnast from the inside out by building up the child’s self-esteem and self-worth and introducing young gymnasts to their inner voice and strength.

“It is my hope that with Y.P.A.G.’s involvement we can inspire today’s gymnasts to believe in themselves and dream big; qualities that will be embedded in their character for the rest of their lives,” said Cornicelli.

Y.P.A.G. was recently launched by Scott. A 28-year accomplished veteran in the dance industry, Scott created a similar organization, Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (Y.P.A.D.), several years ago. This non-profit group is dedicated to ending the exploitation of children in dance and encourages education, awareness and activism that leads to the healthy self-esteem, safety and psychological development of youth. Y.P.A.D. is recognized as a trusted resource to guide and unite the dance community through the complexities of today’s dance culture.


Y.P.A.D.’s sister organization, Y.P.A.G., unites communities to educate parents, coaches and athletes on the emotional, physical and sexual safety of youth in gymnastics. Y.P.A.G. provides support, education and resources for those in need of help and healing to keep athletes, their families and coaches happy, healthy and safe in all gymnastics related environments. Y.P.A.G.’s inaugural advisory panel offers a diverse combination of leaders in the gymnastics industry as well as spets in psychology, criminal justice, political science, social justice, healthcare and nutrition.


“We must be mindful of trends in culture and media and how they influence our athletes,” said Scott. “We encourage education, awareness and advocacy that leads to positive body image, a healthy relationship with food, empowered self-esteem, healthy management of social media, physical safety and honoring the impressionable psychological and sexual development of youth. Y.P.A.G. is a trusted resource to guide and unite our gymnastics community through the complexities of today’s gym culture. Y.P.A.G.’s leadership ensures every child is safe and no child is ever harmed.”

Discover Newport Receives “2017 District Formation of the Year” Award

Civitas Advisors, which recognizes the organization’s commitment to create a tourism marketing district to boost visitation, calls Newport a “pacemaking destination.”


Newport (R.I.) May 15, 2018 – “Civitas is excited to present Discover Newport with our inaugural District of the Year award,” said Civitas Advisors President & CEO John Lambeth. “Evan Smith and his team have set an exceptional precedent in the tourism industry by proactively responding to their funding challenges and employing an offensive strategy to grow their marketing budget.”

Civitas Advisors is a California-based firm specializing in tourism marketing districts (TMDs); hotelier-funded revenue streams dedicated to strategic marketing efforts aimed at boosting leisure and business travel to a destination. The goal of these city-approved TMDs is to increase hotel occupancy and visitor spending throughout the market.

The earliest TMD was established in California nearly 30 years ago and today, there are more than 160 TMDs worldwide. The first TMD in New England was formed last year in Newport, Rhode Island, as a mechanism to protect reliable, dedicated tourism promotion funding. Discover Newport President & CEO Evan Smith is both humbled and honored to accept the award on Newport’s behalf.

“I really need to acknowledge our forward-thinking hotel partners who recognize the exponential, revolutionary advantages of adopting a TMD. Without their partnership, none of this would have been possible,” said Smith. “I have every confidence the TMD will be a touchstone of our destination marketing efforts and will have direct, measurable results for our lodging partners.”

Under the Newport Tourism Destination Marketing Management District plan, participating hotels charge a $1 assessment per night to fund the district budget. One study found that for every dollar raised by a TMD, there is a $70 return for the economy. It is estimated that this new initiative will raise $338,000 in its debut year, setting Newport up for a prosperous and autonomous tourism marketing future.


Discover Newport is the official destination management organization (DMO) dedicated to promoting the City of Newport and the eight surrounding coastal townships in Newport and Bristol counties, Rhode Island. These include Barrington, Bristol, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Warren. As a non-profit organization, Discover Newport partners with stakeholders throughout our tourism and hospitality industry to market the region as a premier destination for business and leisure travel.

Local lighthouses light up Narragansett Bay at Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium this month

     NEWPORT, R.I. – May 2, 2018 –  “Narragansett Bay has a long history of lighthouses guiding wayward vessels through the shallows of our rocky Bay,” said Adam Kovarsky, Save The Bay’s Exploration Center Manager. Because of that history, Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium programs will focus on local lighthouses this May, educating visitors about the functions and purpose of lighthouses with themed activities including a lighthouse craft, scavenger hunt and the story, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge,” by Hildegarde H. Swift and Lynd Ward.
     From its beachfront location inside Easton’s Beach Rotunda at 175 Memorial Blvd. in Newport, the Exploration Center and Aquarium houses over 40 species of marine life from Narragansett Bay, as well as three touch tanks that allow visitors to get up close with various crabs, sharks and other critters. The Exploration Center and Aquarium is open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays until Memorial Day, before opening daily for the summer. General admission is $8; discounted admission for senior citizens and those with a military ID is $7. Save The Bay members can enjoy FREE admission for two adults and up to four children. For more information about the Exploration Center and Aquarium, visit or call 401-324-6020.
     Save The Bay’s lighthouse tours give visitors yet another opportunity to explore the many lighthouses of Narragansett Bay. Northern Bay Lighthouse tours, departing from the Bay Center in Providence, will run from 1–4:30 p.m. on June 16, July 21 and September 15. This 3.5-hour excursion takes guests past eight lighthouses and on an interior tour of the Pomham Rocks Lighthouse. Southern Bay Lighthouse tours, departing from Fort Adams in Newport and running from 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. on July 14 and September 29, will take guests to the lower part of Narragansett Bay to view 11 lighthouses and experience an interior tour of the Rose Island Lighthouse. The Ultimate Lighthouse Tour will run from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on June 23, July 28, August 11 and September 22, taking visitors on a narrated tour of 19 lighthouses. Departing from Providence, this trip includes a lunch stop and a tour of the Rose Island Lighthouse and grounds. Proceeds from all lighthouse tours benefit the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation and Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse, contributing to the restoration and preservation of these beautiful beacons of Narragansett Bay. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Save The Bay Files Complaint for Declaratory Judgment on Coastal Resources Management Council Appointees

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – April 20, 2018 Save The Bay today filed a complaint in Superior Court asking for a declaratory judgment clarifying the number of members the governor has the authority to appoint to the Coastal Resources Management Council and the required qualifications of those members.

The Coastal Resources Management Council is a state agency charged with implementing and enforcing policies concerning the coastal resources of Rhode Island. The Council also acts as hearing officers over contested cases. “We bring this action on behalf of our members who are repeatedly impacted by Council decisions concerning the development of the coastline, public access and the enforcement of regulations designed to protect natural resources. Our members use and enjoy our coastal resources, own or reside near properties that are subject to Council regulations, and use public access sites for surfing, fishing, boating and swimming. They deserve to be properly represented by the Council,” said Save The Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone.

Rhode Island law states that the Council shall consist of 16 members—eight appointed by the governor, including the director of the Department of Environmental Management, and eight appointed by the legislature. The law further stipulates that half of the Council members shall be elected or appointed officials at the time of their appointment to the Council and the majority of members shall represent coastal communities. In 2008, the R.I. Supreme Court determined that under the “so called separation of powers amendment,” the legislature could not, in fact, appoint members or serve on the Council. However, the General Assembly did not amend the law to change the membership of the Council or the appointing authority.  The Council currently consists of 10 members appointed by the governor, including the director of the Department of Environmental Management.

“We sought information from the governor’s office and reviewed the appointing papers of the members of the Council. The governor’s office was unable to  provide us with evidence that the Council includes members who were elected or appointed officials at the time of their appointment or that the majority of members represent coastal communities. It is our understanding that the governor’s office is retroactively working toward securing appointed positions for some members of the Council, which may technically meet the requirement of the law but circumvents its intent.  It also appears that the governor may have exceeded her authority by appointing more than the eight allowable by law,” Stone said.

According to the Save The Bay complaint, “The issue before this court is one of statutory interpretation, a pure question of law…. The declaration sought by Save The Bay in this Petition would terminate the confusion over the appointment authority of the governor and provide certainty with respect to the number of Council members and their qualifications.” Save The Bay contends that prior to the separation of powers amendment, makeup of the Council was clear, but that post-separation of powers, the composition of the Council is unclear.

“The Coastal Resources Management Council has jurisdiction over critically important decisions affecting Rhode Island, and as such, the composition of the Council is a matter of public trust and public resources, particularly for people who live in or use coastal areas affected by Council decisions,” said Stone. “While Save The Bay has serious concerns about the current structure of the agency, we are today seeking clarity about the makeup of the Council and the number and qualifications of the governor’s appointments to ensure that Rhode Island’s coastal communities and coastal users are properly represented, as was clearly the intention of the law.”

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