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Emerging Leaders Academy
With an entire generation moving ever closer to retirement,
our profession is standing on the threshold of dramatic change.

Do you have the high-performance, low-maintenance leaders you need?

Pandemic Policy: Because of the pandemic many firms and individuals have decided they don’t wish to travel this year. The majority of the ELA program is offered virtually, and this year we will also hold virtual conferences to allow participants to network with peers in a stimulating group environment.We will have multiple dates to accommodate participants' schedules and each conference will include interactive sessions and networking opportunities (all from the comfort of home or office).

For those who wish to meet in-person, we will hold two Emerging Leaders Conferences at the Vdara in Las Vegas on January 11-12 and January 13-14, 2022.    

We'll start taking applications for the new program year in January 2022.

Email us at info@upstreamacademy.com to be informed when registration opens.

Program Overview 

Most firms recognize the need to prepare their future leaders.  Some have tried—with only limited success—to develop their own programs.  Others have looked beyond the profession, only to experience the frustration of trying to adapt outside programs. 

Ensure your next generation is receiving the tools, training and development they need - and want!

Quality programs exist, both within and outside of public accounting.  But as we’ve talked with both managing partners and future leaders, they’ve shared with us their concerns about what’s currently available and what they’d like to see in a program to prepare future firm leaders.

We believe an exceptional leadership development program must possess the following key characteristics

  • the program must be focused on helping participants become high-yield, low-maintenance leaders
  • learning must be continuous, delivered in digestible doses regularly throughout the year
  • individuals must be able to apply what they’ve learned by accomplishing challenging goals throughout the year
  • the learning experience needs to be easily customizable to meet individual and firm needs
  • current firm leaders must be involved in the training to ensure participants are able to apply the lessons learned within the firm
  • each participant needs to have a guide, a trusted and respected leader from within the firm
  • the progress of each participant must be measurable
  • participants need to be able to network with other emerging leaders outside the firm
  • the program must be affordable and require minimal travel




ELA Brochure


The greatest opportunities for growth are found at the edges of our comfort zones and can be greatly enhanced by focused, proactive effort.  The worst mistake we could make with Emerging Leaders Academy is to ask too little of our profession’s future leaders.

The program is $3,400 per participant per year (UAN members pay $2,900 per year).



Frequently Asked Questions

Log into the On-line Progress Tracking program (OPT) for Emerging Leaders Academy participants


This program gives firms the tools they need to create highly customized leadership development maps for each of their future leaders.  Here’s what makes Emerging Leaders Academy unique.

1 Leadership Training Forums

During each year of the program, eight to ten one-hour webinars led by Sam Allred, Jeremy Clopton and Tim Bartz provide a forum for discussing key principles of leadership.

Participants receive the PowerPoint, questions to consider, and other materials in advance of the presentation and access to the recorded presentation online afterward.

Leadership Training Forum Topics

2 Leadership Project

Each year, participants will complete a challenging (10+ hours) leadership project that satisfies one or more goal requirements and allows individuals or teams of emerging leaders to further develop important skills.  Upstream will assist by providing project advice, suggestions and examples, and guides will work closely with participants to ensure accountability and accomplishment of the desired objectives.

3 Guides

The process of learning new principles and skills is almost always easier if accompanied by someone who has previously walked the same path.  Managing partners will assign emerging leaders to experienced guides, respected stakeholders from within the firm who will work with participants throughout the three-year program to help them set and accomplish goals and complete assignments.  Upstream Academy will provide training and materials to individuals who are selected to serve as guides.

4 Leadership Development Goals

We believe leadership skills are best learned by “doing.” Throughout the year, participants will set and accomplish related goals after each Leadership Training Forum.

Upstream provides a list of potential goals after each forum, and participants choose a goal after each session to work on before the next forum. Participants complete all the goals chosen prior to the program year conclusion in May.

Guides work closely with participants, helping them select proper goals and holding them accountable for accomplishing those goals.  With guide-ensured accountability, accomplishing challenging goals allows participants to apply what they’ve learned and give value back to the firm.

5 Measured Progress

It’s difficult to know if you’re on course unless there’s some way to measure progress.  Upstream Academy will provide tools (including an online “members only” page) for the participants and their in-house guides that will allow them to track progress on goals and projects throughout the year, network with other program participants and stay connected.   Firms will also receive guidance on best practices for creating an organized, efficient process in-house to help their emerging leaders grow during this three-year period. 

6 Free Registration at One of Our Major Events

Because of the current pandemic, many firms are not advising travel, so we have decided to hold virtual conferences for 2021. All ELA participants are invited to attend. For those participants ready to travel, we will also provide an option to attend a live event January 13-14, 2022 at the Vdara in Las Vegas. Only the first 100 participants will be able to attend this event.

Always one of the most high-rated aspects of the program, conferences provide a way for participants to network with peers in a stimulating group environment, share insights and gain insights on both current and future firm issues so they can bring new energy, ideas and best practices to the firm.

Watch for additional details on dates and times!

7 Experienced Consultants

Sam Allred and Jeremy Clopton Jeremy Clopton Bio Sam Allred bio Sam Allred, Director at Upstream Academy, interacts with hundreds of CPA firms around the world each year via professional conferences, partner retreats, and conference call presentations.  Sam is widely regarded as one of our profession’s top strategic thinkers.

Jeremy Clopton, Director at Upstream Academy, has a passion for engaging all generations to move their firms forward. His real-world experience comes both as a consultant and in the audit department of a top accounting and consulting firm and he uses this experience to provide a vision for improvement.



8 Unconditional Guarantee

We’re confident that Emerging Leaders Academy will be of immeasurable value to your firm and its future leaders.  Like everything we do at Upstream Academy, this program is unconditionally guaranteed to your full satisfaction.  If you’re not completely satisfied, we will, at your option, either waive your fee or accept that portion of the fee that reflects your level of satisfaction.


Some Advice on Setting Goals and Maximizing Guides' Expertise



Here's What Participants Have Told Us About the Program