Employee Spotlight: Kari Goetz

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Kari Goetz took a roundabout route to TPA from her hometown of Fort Myers. She came by way of the New Mickey Mouse Club.

Goetz, who joined the airport team in May as the community and volunteer services manager, oversees all the special events at the airport, including the recently launched Friday Flight entertainment series, and heads the volunteer ambassador program.

She’s also one of Tampa’s best and most popular professional stage actors. She recently drew rave reviews for her title performance as a frisky but philosophically astute canine in the Stageworks production of “Sylvia.”

But before she moved to Tampa, Goetz had a successful career in TV and movies, including a stint on “The New Mickey Mouse Club,” which spawned an astounding number of today’s megastars.

“I was on a soap opera that they showed during the New Mickey Mouse Club, kind of like ‘Spin and Marty,’ ” she said. (“Spin and Marty” was a series that was shown on the original “Mickey Mouse Club.”) “I knew Britney (Spears), I knew Justin (Timberlake), I knew Ryan (Gosling), but Keri Russell was the one I worked with most.”

Goetz was pretty much a show biz veteran by the time “The New Mickey Mouse Club” came along in the early ‘90s. She became a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the union for film and TV actors, when she was 8 years old and starred in a national commercial.

After “The New Mickey Mouse Club” ended, she earned a degree in theater from the University of Florida and then headed to Los Angeles. She worked steadily with Second City, the legendary comedy improv company, where her colleagues included Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard and Simon Helberg (who now plays Howard Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory.”)

Her TV career continued as well. She had a recurring role on “Providence,” alongside former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell and did guest spots on other shows.

Ultimately, Goetz grew tired of LA and the business side of show biz.

“I just didn’t want to deal with it any more,” she said. “I’d been doing it since I was 8.”

She had heard that an old college friend had started a theater company in Tampa and that they were doing interesting work. She came back to Florida and she’s been involved with Jobsite Theater, which is in residence at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, ever since.

She also went back to school, earning a masters degree in communication from the University of South Florida before joining the airport.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s such a unique environment. I get to help people get on planes to go places, to take trips and have adventures. How can you not love that?”


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