background image
AICPA Leadership Academy
`Career-Changing' Program Seeking Next Generation of Leaders
By Caitlin Q. Bailey O'Neill, Assistant Editor
"Career-changing" is the first word that
springs to the lips of Michael Maksymiw
Jr., a 2010 Leadership Academy alum.
In early October each year, 35 to 40 of
the nation's best-and-brightest young
CPAs (between the ages of 25 and 35)
head to Durham, North Carolina for
the AICPA Leadership Academy. Over
the course of four days, the students
engage in interactive dialogue about
leadership, harnessing their individual
strengths to become leaders, and the
future of the accounting profession
right alongside the profession's thought
leaders and influencers.
(Leadership Academy participants
even unwind at the end of their long
days with beer, wine, and some intense
patio cornhole matches with AICPA
President and CEO and apparent
cornhole ringer Barry Melancon!)
"Leadership Academy builds on the
foundational knowledge perspective of
each individual and focuses on expe-
riential exercises. During the program,
each individual has a uniquely different
experience with one common thread
everyone walks away personally and
professionally transformed," the AICPA
promises. "Participants are [also] im-
mersed in evening activities that estab-
lish collaborative thinking and strong
bonds that last a lifetime."
Since the program's 2009 origins, Con-
necticut has been represented by three
Leadership Academy alum: Maksymiw
(class of 2010), Katherine McNair
(class of 2014), and Joanna Purtell
(class of 2015). All three (who also hap-
pen to be friendly through years spent
on CTCPA's New and Young Profes-
sionals Cabinet) readily admit that the
program has changed their careers
and given them a new network of other
up-and-comer CPAs to lean on.
"[AICPA] does a great job creating
Facebook pages and groups on Linke-
dIn to keep everyone connected," Pur-
tell said. "It's amazing how quickly you
get close to these people."
That bond, they all agree, comes from
spending four "intense" days with other
young professionals who all care about
the future of the profession.
"There are so many other like-minded
people I went wow, this is such a cool
group to be a part of," said Maksymiw.
"You get there and you don't have to
try to be the best there. You get to just
be yourself there because, given the
exclusivity, everyone is the best. As a
group. You don't have to be Kobe or
Michael you are the NBA. You're the
ones who want to do this, who put in
the time and the effort."
Are you interested in being a part of the
2016 Leadership Academy?
The AICPA is currently accepting applications for the 2016 Leadership Acad-
emy, set for October 2-6, 2016. The deadline for applications (which must
include a current resume or vita and two completed professional reference
forms) is May 31, 2016. Additionally, a 500- to 700-word essay is due by June
16, 2016.
For more information and to apply, visit
"Have a voice in the changes within the profession," Maksymiw urged. "We
have 30 years left. Do you want to be told what to do the rest of your career,
or do you want to be part of the conversation?"
Can four days really make a difference in your career and your life?
Ask any of the more than 230 graduates of the AICPA's six-year-old
Leadership Academy and you'll get a resounding yes.