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New on Board: Hickman dives into challenges at unified aquatics group

Association veteran must harmonize certification programs, eliminate redundancies while shuttling between far-flung offices

Jan. 17, 2020
By A. Caryn Freeman

After years of fierce competition, creating rival programs, and poaching staff, two associations merged last year to form the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. Sabeena Hickman, who joined PHTA as its first permanent CEO in September, said one of the biggest challenges in her new role is creating a new culture.

“I’ve always built organizations on openness and transparency, and that’s what we need to move toward,” Hickman said.

Hickman, former CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, is getting to know the aquatics industry and employees split between dual headquarters 1,500 miles apart. The office in Alexandria, Va., was headquarters for the former Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. The office in Colorado Springs, Colo., housed the National Swimming Pool Foundation.