AICPA Leadership Academy FAQs
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AICPA Leadership Academy FAQs

May 10, 2021 · 3 min read

Why was the Leadership Academy created?

In 2009, the chair of the AICPA saw a lack of diverse young leaders entering the CPA pipeline. The AICPA Leadership Academy was created to provide an immersive experience to engage young emerging leaders with the profession, the AICPA and each other. Since then, more than 415 CPAs ranging in age from 25 to 35 have graduated from the program.

Why is the program unique?

The program was carefully designed to meet the current and future needs of emerging CPA leaders and their employers. The content is reassessed annually and updated as needed to keep pace with our rapidly evolving environment.

The program addresses the reality young professionals face in the current business environment. Rather than teach models of leadership that are static and context specific, the AICPA Leadership Academy is designed to focus on developing an adaptive mindset in the young leader and promotes:

  • flexible, strategic, and future-minded thinking,

  • reflective, honest self-awareness of strengths, and habits,

  • improved understanding of best practices for managing and collaborating with others,

  • a system perspective of the CPA profession, and

  • a commitment to being an active steward of the profession.

The AICPA Leadership Academy emphasizes personal accountability in the leadership journey. The program’s authors and facilitators bring a learning curriculum built on evidence-based practices that address character and consciousness as well as competency.

In addition to having one-on-one time with the AICPA President & CEO and current chair of the Board of Directors, we engage our participants in learning and discussion as it relates to their strengths, core values, thinking styles, well-being, resiliency, and leadership vision. Our intention is to ensure that Academy graduates return home with a sense of unconditional responsibility to their own development so that they can best serve their sponsoring organizations and the profession in their leadership capacity.

The AICPA Leadership Academy seeks to impact its participants in such a meaningful way that they will immediately realize the benefits of new knowledge, innovative ways to think, and lead others as well a new network of reliable professional relationships.

But, even more importantly, it is our intention that decades later, they will find themselves mentoring rising young professionals and still reflect on the AICPA Leadership Academy as a turning point in their personal and professional lives.

What is the importance of the Leadership Academy to the AICPA and the CPA profession?

Like most organizations, the Association is investing in young, diverse leaders as a part of our stewardship and legacy. This unique opportunity attracts the best and brightest from across the country to understand and learn more about leadership as it relates to their personal competency sets.

What does the investment in Leadership mean to the profession?

Investing in young members today bolsters the sustainability of the profession into the future by building on inherent leadership competencies.

What impact does this leadership training have on participants? What are some of the successes you have seen?

One of the challenges we encounter is adequately describing the unique and individualistic experience that participants have during the AICPA Leadership Academy. Consistent feedback graduates share about the impact of the program is the peer relationships gained and a fundamental shift in their thinking about leadership.

We have seen Academy graduates go on to earn promotions in the firms or organizations as well as serve in high-level volunteer roles at their state societies and the Association, including on Council and the Board of Directors.

What does the AICPA look for in candidates for the Leadership Academy?

During the AICPA's vetting process, we focus on a wide and varied balance of individuals. The selected candidates represent a balance of geography, specialization, organization size, gender, ethnicity, and skills. This diversity enriches conversations during the program and sets a positive example of inclusivity.

Why should someone apply?

The common traits participants hold is their love for the profession and their desire to improve themselves. Consistent feedback from graduates is primarily focused on how the program forever changed their perspective about accounting while simultaneously leveraging positive executive presence.

How do you know the program is successful?

We conduct a post-graduation survey to all participants, and year-over-year receive overwhelmingly positive feedback. Graduates openly express an exponential increase in their desire and passion to make a difference for the future of the accounting profession, and numerous individuals serve on committees or boards at the state level or AICPA.

Who should apply?

To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be a licensed CPA between the age of 25-35

  • Be a regular member of the AICPA

  • Be a member of a state society and/or professional accounting organization

  • Have 3+ years of experience within the CPA profession

This criterion ensures all attendees have the same level of accounting exposure which enhances the collective atmospheric dialog during sessions.

What kind of activities should a participant expect?

The AICPA Leadership Academy builds on the foundational knowledge perspective of each participant and focuses on experiential exercises. During the program, everyone has a unique experience with one common thread—attendees walk away personally and professionally transformed. Participants are immersed in activities which establish collaborative thinking and professional relationships that last a lifetime.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Please direct any questions to

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