Athletes Career Change Executive Program

From Exceptional Athlete to Exceptional Leader

With their discipline, drive to continuously improve, and determination to succeed, elite athletes have honed skills that can make them exceptional leaders. This enormous promise often remains unrealized, at great cost to the athlete and society as a powerful force remains untapped. Many athletes who leave their sport do not know where to turn next. They need a setting that helps them explore their talents, sample different career trajectories, mentors and executive coaches who guide them in the process, and high-quality, targeted education. ACCE is here to help.

About the ACCE Program

We invite you to join the Ivy League with the ACCE Program, a specialized Executive Education Certificate program offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s acclaimed Graduate School of Education. ACCE provides select, accomplished individuals with the skills and connections to leverage their talents in a new career, including education, entrepreneurship, business, science, as well as the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

ACCE prepares elite athletes for success through a unique combination of learning experiences:

  • Targeted, intensive training in small classes offers high-quality, practical knowledge on topics that include  
    • Career self-assessment
    • Introduction to diverse career trajectories
    • Introduction to management, including leadership, strategy, organizational design, teamwork, and motivation
    • Professional skills, including high performance under stress, business writing, public speaking, and persuasion
    • Personal finance and investing
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Marketing
    • Negotiation
    • Résumé building, networking, and interviewing
  • Internships in different careers helps athletes sample among career paths and establish business networks, including with the powerful Penn Community
  • Executive coaching with an experienced faculty coach provides an individualized development program and just-in-time trouble shooting
  • Mentorship from a working professional offers practical guidance
  • Immersion in an Entrepreneurship Incubator nurtures athletes who want to start their own business

ACCE Clients and Logistics

We design custom tailored programs for professional and amateur sports leagues and associations, including the Olympic Committee. Programs take place both nationwide and internationally. 


Classes will be taught by the faculty from the University of Pennsylvania with expertise in both optimal human development and business as well as by working professionals.  


Participants are selected based on their past accomplishments and promise as business leaders.

Sponsorship Opportunities 

ACCE collaborates with corporate sponsors to make the program available to athletes at a reduced cost. Corporate sponsorship opportunities range from single programs to nationwide and international programs. The cost of sponsorship depends on the scope of the support. 

Program Leadership

If you are interested in joining the ACCE program, please email us at or call us at (424) 225-1907.

Bobbi Kurshan

Penn GSE Executive Director of Academic Innovation

Dr. Barbara Kurshan provides executive level leadership of a series of entrepreneurially focused programs and efforts (such as the Milken-Penn GSE Educational Business Plan Competition) and helps develop new degree and non-degree programs at the Penn Graduate School of Education. She began her teaching career at Virginia Tech, where she obtained her doctorate, and was the Director of Academic Computing and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Hollins College for many years. Dr. Kurshan has also served as President of Educorp Consultants Corporation,Executive Vice President of WorldSage, Executive Director of Curriki, Co-CEO of Core Learning, and the Chief Academic Officer of bigchalk. She currently serves on the Board of several education companies. She developed the first children’s software products for Microsoft and also created award-winning products for McGraw-Hill, Apple, CCC (Pearson) and others.

Alexandra Michel

ACCE Program Director

Professor Michel is faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert in leadership development for CEOs, presidents, board members, and high-potential business unit leaders as well as organizational development and change. She has both ivy-league academic training (Wharton Ph.D.) and practical experience in leading organizations in the US and abroad. Her research has advanced scholarship and practice. It is published in the organizational discipline’s leading outlets and is taught to other scholars in top Ph.D. programs. Dr. Michel’s ideas have informed the practice of important business leaders and organizations. For example, she has worked with the Chief of Staff of Goldman Sachs to help the firm devise a new approach to executive education. The practical significance of Professor Michel’s work is further evident from the international press coverage. She has been featured in many international TV, radio, and press interviews, including CNBC/CNBC Korea, Fox News, Bloomberg TV, and NPR. In addition, over 40 other outlets have reported on her research including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, MSNBC, TIME Magazine, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and other press in the US, China, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Romania, Argentina and Brazil. 

Zhifu "Ken" Chen

ACCE Assistant Director

Chen is a serial entrepreneur, who has worked in the areas of healthcare, social media, and career transitions. He graduated from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.