Florida’s pool industry advocate has hung out her shingle.

Jennifer Hatfield, who has served as director of government and public affairs for the Florida Swimming Pool Associationsince 2006, now will operate as an independent contractor.

Her tenure on staff at FSPA officially ended Sept. 14.

“This was something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Hatfield, who still will head up government relations for the association, albeit under a new arrangement. “This just creates more opportunities within the industry and for myself. I’m very excited about it.”

An attorney by trade, she has worked with state officials on issues ranging from licensing to energy efficiency to safety requirements. Her new enterprise — J. Hatfield & Associates, PL — will be based in Sarasota at least through the end of 2010, she said.

In addition to remaining at the helm of FSPA’s government relations program, Hatfield looks forward to expanding her advocacy on behalf of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, for whom she has worked part-time since last year.   

“I’m looking forward to helping APSP grow their grass-roots program,” she said. “It’s going to be a more direct role — a larger role — and I look for it to be a fruitful experience that lasts for many years.”

APSP officials agreed.

“We are delighted to have more of her time. It’s going to be a fantastic benefit to our members,” said Kirstin Pires, director of communication for the national association. “The idea is for her to facilitate a more active and involved membership.”

If all goes according to plan, it’s unlikely Hatfield will seek additional clients for at least the next nine to 12 months. Her focus, at least in the near term, remains squarely on the pool and spa industry.

“Between APSP and FSPA, their needs warrant my full attention at this point,” she said, adding that she does expect to hire additional staffers in the coming months.

For their part, FSPA officials don’t anticipate much difference resulting from Hatfield’s new role with the organization. Her responsibilities should remain largely the same: representing the group in Tallahassee, monitoring legislation, keeping members informed of new regulations, and building alliances across the industry, to name a few.