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HeadWaters Leadership Conference

  • 2022 Overview
  • 2022 Agenda
  • 2022 Location
  • 2022 Sponsorship
  • Past Conferences

HeadWaters 2021

Embracing Change during Uncertainty

Don’t let what you think you know limit your firm’s success in the new reality.

Anyone who’s tried to get in better shape, learn a new language or develop a new skill recognizes that good habits ensure long-term success in many things. But holding onto outdated, inefficient, and cumbersome habits, processes and policies can severely limit your firm’s options for the future.

Join us for HeadWaters 2022 and we’ll provide practical examples and best practices for embracing the changes you need for your firm to thrive in uncertain times.

Join us July 21-22, 2022 in Park City, Utah.


Sponsors for the HeadWaters 2022 Conference

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation



Tri-Merit serves leading CPA firms and their clients by providing Specialty Tax Services to identify and secure maximum credits, deductions, and incentives.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation



McGuire Sponsel is a trusted specialty tax consulting firm and specializes in Fixed Asset Services, R&D Tax Credit Services, Global Business Services, and Credits & Incentives Services. McGuire Sponsel is committed to providing high-quality service with integrity in a way that helps partner firms bring value to their clients.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation



McGowanPRO, formerly NAPLIA, specializes in professional liability insurance and risk management services for professional service providers. Our experienced staff in risk management will shop the insurance policy for you and explain the differences with each policy ensuring that you get the best value and coverage for your firm. Contact Stephen Vono svono@mcGowanpro.com.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation


MindBridge Discover the world’s leading financial risk discovery platform that helps auditors, accountants, and financial professionals to become more efficient and profitable by surfacing errors and risk, intentional or not. Designed by auditors, for auditors. No coding required.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation


PracticeERP (by goVirtualOffice) offers an all-in-one ERP designed to efficiently manage complexities of your CPA Firm with streamlined workflow management fully integrated with timers, time entry, logistics, WIP, billing and financials.  PracticeERP includes robust analytics, purpose-built for CPA Firm real-time business intelligence and dashboards to keep track of it all.


Thursday, July 21, 2022  
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast  
8:00 – 8:15 Welcome and Logistics  
  Jeremy Clopton, Director at Upstream Academy  
8:15 – 9:30

Creating a Culture Open to Change

  Jeremy Clopton, Director at Upstream Academy  

As the world changes, firms who try to “return to normal” may find this a moving target.  As Claude Bernard noted “It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.” When something contradicts our current understanding, many of us will dismiss the idea outright.  This saves us from crackpot conspiracy beliefs, jumping too quickly on bandwagons and inconsistent behavior, but can be a major impediment when we are forced to adapt.  Join Jeremy for an insightful look at how to ensure you are challenging the right assumptions, creating a process to rethink outdated, incorrect and stale ideas, and building a culture that thrives during change.  

9:30 – 9:45 Break  
9:45 – 11:00

Redefining Productivity


Courtney DeRonde, Managing Partner at TDT CPAs & Advisors


The equation seems simple:  more hours = more productivity.  Have too much work?  Eat at your desk, stay late, come in early, and add a few days to the workweek.   Unfortunately, many individuals (and firms) have found that burning the candle at both ends ensures a quick burnout.  Let’s examine the mindset that told a generation to put their heads down and push through.  Does the research support this?  Does the profession’s experience prove this?  Will the next generation buy into this concept?  Join Courtney for a discussion of a new way to look at productivity, work/life integration and firm success that helps you and your staff become more productive and remain free of burn-out.

11:00 – 11:15 Break  
11:15 – 12:30

Giving Younger Staff a Voice and Path for Intentional Development


Marty Brown, President and CEO at PYA


Most firms have an untapped resource – the fresh, innovative, tech-savvy perspectives of younger staff.  When firms only give experienced staff a voice, they not only lose opportunities for input, but also the chance to build a more engaging culture.  Is your firm  focused on providing the opportunities and training needed to help the best and brightest share their insights and build an exciting career, regardless of years of service?  Join Marty as he shares insights on how to tap into the power of your entire firm by giving younger staff a voice and a path for intentional development. 

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch  
1:30 – 2:45 Concurrent Sessions – Select One of Four Sessions  

Rethinking the Path to Partner


Jennifer Cantero, Director of Marketing & Sustainability at Sensiba San Filippo, LLP


Most firms recognize that the path to partner is changing. Firm offerings, firm clients and firm member expectations have changed – so has your firm changed its expectations for partnership? Can you imagine the benefits if everyone in the firm were encouraged to perform like a potential partner? Join Jennifer as she shares insights about her path from Director of Marketing to Practice Leader and discusses how to rethink your process for recruiting, training and guiding your next generation of partners. Join us for specific, practical, and actionable ways to help your people advance more quickly to give you the competitive advantage of having a firm comprised of highly skilled, fully developed, partner-ready professionals.


Modifying Firm Leadership Structures for Sustainability


Steve Castino, Executive Partner at Vestal & Wiler


For a variety of reasons, many of your firm’s talented, ambitious and driven emerging leaders may be unwilling to commit to partnership under a traditional model.  Does this mean they are banned from becoming firm leaders? Think again. If your firm is unwilling to create part-time partners, provide leadership roles (and salaries) to non-partners, or consider other leadership alternatives – you may find your best people pursue this option elsewhere. Don’t lose your top talent and sabotage your firm’s succession plans by attempting to force everyone into the Baby Boomer mold. Let’s discuss pitfalls to avoid, safeguards to include and ways to make alternative leadership models a true win/win.


Cultivating Innovation Instead of Waiting for Brilliance to Strike

  Heath Alloway, Director at Upstream Academy  

Scientific invention is often portrayed as coming from a sudden burst of insight like a bolt from the blue, but more often it’s the result of hard work and an ability to create an atmosphere where innovation thrives.  As our profession changes, your firm’s ability to innovate can set you apart, drive ingenious client and firm solutions, and help you quickly and creatively capitalize on changes.  So, when brilliance doesn’t strike, how do you jumpstart innovation?  Join us for an insightful look at how to help firm members brainstorm creative ideas for firm and client problems by creating a culture that promotes innovative thought – so you can call the lightening rather than waiting for inspiration to strike.


Rethinking Partner Compensation to Drive Partner Satisfaction

  Kristen Rampe, Managing Principal at Rampe Consulting    
  Partners want to do what’s in the firm’s best interest, but too many compensation systems inadvertently discourage a firm-centric attitude with confusing, outdated or book-based provisions that leave everyone frustrated.  There’s no silver bullet for this issue, but the first step is recognizing that partner behavior and partner compensation are inexorably linked.  During this time of flux, partner compensation can either hold the firm back or drive it forward.  Join Kristen as she takes a deep dive into how to structure fair, equitable agreements that remove the mysteries and protect both the partner and the firm, encouraging and rewarding partners for doing what’s in the best interest of the firm long-term.  
  The New Standard: What to Expect and How to Prepare  
  Danielle Supkis Cheek, VP Strategy & Industry Relations at MindBridge  
  Change is always hard, but forced change on someone else's timeline is harder. Several upcoming standards updates will force firms to change in a very material way in coming months and years. During this session we won’t cover the nuance of coming standards changes, but what the standard means for those running a CPA practice and what level of effort, complexity, and risk is required to implement and/or become compliant. We’ll cover the obvious standard changes coming (risk assessment and quality management) but we will also cover projects such as technology ethics and the status of a move to potentially increase the auditor's responsibility for fraud.  


2:45 –3:00 Break  
3:00 – 5:00 Discussion Forums: Shared Challenges, Shared Solutions  
  Sam Allred, Heath Alloway, Marty Brown, Jeremy Clopton, Kristen Rampe and John Sensiba  
  Always one of the most popular features of Upstream conferences, our afternoon discussion forums provide an unmatched opportunity to share your firm's greatest challenges and learn how other firm leaders have successfully dealt with the same difficulties. Bring your most vexing issues and a notepad, and be ready to return to the office with great new ideas for solving your firm's challenges!  
5:15 – 6:15 Reception  
Friday, July 22, 2022  
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast  
7:15-7:45 Breakfast Session: When Life Throws You a Curveball  
  Randy Crabtree, Partner at Tri-Merit  
  Have you ever had an experience that changed your approach to and perspective on life? That’s exactly what happened to Randy Crabtree. After a significant life event, his perspective changed – along with his mental health. Join Randy and Jeremy Clopton for a candid discussion about how Randy was able to work through mental health challenges, the signs you or a team member may be struggling, and what you can do to address similar issues. In addition, we’ll discuss how the experience led Randy to reevaluate his strengths and role in the business in a way that positively impacted both him and his firm.  
8:00 – 9:15

How Purpose and Passion Can Engage and Lead to Profits

  John Sensiba, Managing Partner of Sensiba San Filippo, LLP  

Passion gives us purpose, driving our effort, attitude and desire. So, can you imagine the impact of having everyone on your team passionate about making progress? The key to getting the most from all your people is to connect their passions to the work the firm is doing for clients and the community. But how do you do this? Join John as he discusses how to discover passions that intersect with firm vision, how to integrate individual passions with career goals, and how to effectively customize adaptable careers that take full advantage of individual passions and lead to greater engagement for the individual and greater profit for the firm.

9:15 –9:30 Break  
9:30– 10:45

Stop Forcing Your Llamas to Eat Goat Chow: Rethinking Client Service


Julie Eisenhauer and Jennifer Harris, Shareholders at Clark Nuber PS


Did you know Purina makes feed specifically for llamas?  The average person may not think it differs much from Goat Chow, but you can bet anyone who raises show llamas has done the calculations.  Are you expecting your llama clients to eat goat food?  Client service is more than creating great services, it means providing great services the client wants and needs. Join us as Julie and Jennifer discuss how their firm has taken client services to the next level by initiating more in-depth client conversations from the start to ensure they understand the client, the issues and desired outcomes before they even start providing billable work. 

10:45 – 11:00 Break  
11:00 – 12:15

Taking What You’ve Learned and Driving Change

  Sam Allred, Director at Upstream Academy  

Knowing what needs to change is the first step – but making a plan to implement those changes is the true goal.  Managing change is hard work under even the best conditions – let alone in our fast-paced business world. How do you keep the dialogue open with those who are being impacted most by change? How do you work through the inevitable challenges change brings, keep partners and others performing, maintain your firm culture, and pace both yourself and the firm? Sam will discuss the barriers to change and a process to help you get buy-in, empower your change agents and implement a process to help your firm successfully implement positive change.



We return this year to beautiful Park City, Utah, nestled under Rocky Mountain peaks and an easy 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City Airport.

The Park City area offers something for everyone including over 100 restaurants, factory outlet stores, quaint shops, fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, water sports and more.

Hotel Information
This year’s conference will be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge located at 7700 Stein Way in Park City, Utah.  Reservations can be made online or by calling 800-453-1302. You will need to specify Upstream Academy to receive the special conference rate of $344.00 (which includes the $25 resort fee). We recommend making your reservation by June 24, 2022.

If you have any problems with hotel reservations, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance


Air Travel Information
The resort is approximately 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City Airport.


Guests can arrange a variety of transportation options to and from the airport with the hotel’s concierge team (private car, shared van service, taxi, Lyft, or Uber, etc.). If you prefer to rent a car, reservations for airport car rentals can be made in advance through car rental agencies.

Conference Meal Information
Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Thursday and a buffet-style breakfast will be provided Friday. 

Special Meal Requests
If you have special meal requests, please contact Kelsey Mundt at (406) 495-1850 or email at kelseym@upstreamacademy.com.


HeadWaters Conference 2022 Sponsorship Apply to become a conference sponsor

Benefits of Sponsorship

  • Complimentary access to conference sessions for up to two representatives (Discussion Forums on first day not included)
  • Introduction of representatives by Upstream at the beginning of the event
  • Announcements throughout the conference acknowledging sponsorship and requesting
    attendees visit the sponsor’s display
  • Draped display table with chairs outside of General Session room for marketing materials
  • List of conference attendees
  • Chance to interact with participants during the conference meals, breaks and reception
  • Banner and link on Upstream’s website in the conference section

Who Will Attend? HeadWaters 2022 will be attended by 120-140 Managing Partners, Partners, Senior Managers and Managers from top CPA firms across the United States and Canada. The conference will consist of sessions led by nationally recognized speakers and firm leaders.

Why Participate as a Sponsor?
Sponsorship brings your company high-profile recognition and exposure to top decision-makers in CPA firms. Sponsorship is limited to seven companies.

Lodging and Logistics
Sponsors are responsible for all travel arrangements and hotel costs. Upstream will provide a draped
display table with chairs. Sponsors requiring electricity, Internet access, etc. at their booth are responsible
for coordination with the hotel and any additional cost.

When your application is received, an Upstream representative will contact you to confirm availability on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Upstream reserves the right to accept or reject any sponsor application.
  • Applications for sponsorship with sponsorship fee must be received by June 15, 2022
  • To be featured on the Upstream Academy website, please send your company logo along with a brief description of your company and/or services (no more than 50 words) to Kelsey at kelseym@upstreamacademy.com.

HeadWaters Conference Brochures

This two day conference is held each July. Here are a few brochures from past conferences.

HeadWaters Conference brochure



Your Satisfaction Is Our Goal

As with everything Upstream Academy does, your satisfaction with the HeadWaters Conference is guaranteed. If you are not completely satisfied with the value you receive, we will, at your option, either refund your money or accept the portion of those fees that reflects your level of satisfaction.

CPE Sponsor

Upstream Academy will recommend 13 hours of CPE credit for participation in this course. Prerequisite: None Skill Level: Overview Learning Objectives: After attending the HeadWaters Conference you will be able to identify and implement improvements to your leadership develpment skills, as well as your firm’s leadership development processes.

Upstream Academy is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.nasba.org.