Get ready: The American Institute of CPAs is gearing up to reveal the sophomore class of its Leadership Academy.

The brainchild of former AICPA chair Ernie Almonte, the three-day leadership training is specifically for CPAs under the age of 35 with at least three years of professional experience. This year it's happening in October, but participants will be announced sometime in July.

"It's more an art than a science," said Matthew Murtaugh, manager of the Young CPAs Initiatives at the AICPA, of the decision-making process. "We want gender parity. That's critical, and we want diversity to be represented. The accounting profession is not very diverse, so that's something we'll emphasize. And we want a diversity of practice areas."

This year the event is in Durham, N.C. Tom Hood, president of the Maryland Association of CPAs, will be one of the main presenters and facilitators. Much of the focus will be on strategic visioning and facilitation.

One of the cool things about the academy is that after participants graduate, they are placed on an AICPA committee with a board member as a formal mentor.

You can follow what's happening on Twitter, as the Young CPA Network will be throwing out tweets as the three days unfold. "We do a lot of role-playing and people are dealing with personal leadership challenges," Murtaugh said. "We try to keep it intimate. Leadership involves a lot of emotion and it's controversial."

And yes, of course there will be fun, too. Last year it was a White Sox game in Chicago (with Barry Melancon and Almonte in attendance), so all bets are on that there will be some sort of good times in store for those chosen for this elite event. We can't wait to hear what happens!

If you or someone you know is a spectacular young CPA, introduce us. Zip us an e-mail at liz.gold@sourcemedia.com.

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