As a teenager growing up in north Pinellas County, Shari Kopp loved to plan things. Whether it was working on the prom or homecoming committees at Tarpon Springs High, or later, planning friends’ weddings, organizing special events was something Shari had a knack for doing exceptionally well.
“I just love having a vision and then watching the whole product come together,” Shari said.
Today, Shari is the one responsible for planning all of the fun employee events for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. A lover of sports, she has helped coordinate golf tournaments, Bucs and Rays game days for employees, as well as organizing Weight Watchers meetings, smoking cessation classes, Town Halls, Toys For Tots drives, raffles for tickets and the upcoming Zumba and yoga classes.
It’s just a small part of her job as a Senior Administrative Specialist in Human Resources, but it’s an important one, especially at an organization that is constantly growing and evolving.
“I like to have a plan for everything, though I’ve learned to be flexible” Shari said. “Things change all day, every day and it keeps things interesting and exciting.”
Born in New York, Shari moved to Florida with her mother when she was 9 and was always involved in student council, event committees, and sports. After Shari worked at Albertson’s supermarket all through high school, her mother married and moved away and Shari decided to pursue a career with Hillsborough County, working in Aging Services. About a year later, she applied for an Office Assistant job in the maintenance department at Tampa International Airport and for about 10 months, she was the Authority’s youngest employee at age 19.
She worked in maintenance administration for several years, and eventually worked as an administrative assistant for both Maintenance and Planning & Development when the two departments merged.
“That was fun because I learned a lot about planning and projects at the airport,” Shari said. “I didn’t know anything about construction when I started working for P&D, so that was a whole new world to me.”
A little over a year ago, Shari decided to apply for a position in Human Resources, which she found appealing because she loves helping people and keeping our employees “in the know”. By that time, she had already become very involved in planning employee events, a role she took with her when she became the department’s Senior Administrative Specialist. In addition to her HR and employee events duties, she is also a part of the Executive Administration team, supporting Al Illustrato, Vice President of Facilities and Administration.
Shari is now pursuing a business degree at St. Petersburg College, studying management and organizational leadership with a focus on human resources. A natural planner, she has mapped out her hopes to advance her career at Tampa International Airport, particularly in Human Resources.
“I really love HR and I see myself growing with it,” Shari said.
While juggling a full-time job and part-time classes, Shari makes time for her husband Joel – whom she has dated since she was 17 – and her almost-5-year-old daughter Brianna. The three live in Wesley Chapel and love to spend quality time together, having family movie nights, and visiting Busch Gardens, Disney World and the beach.
Shari also takes great pride in an important part of her daily routine: She speaks on the phone with her father, who lives in New York, and shares a special bond with him that she treasures.
“He’s always been there, as long as I can remember, and I talk to him about everything,” she said. “Even when I was a teenager growing up in a different state, I talked to him constantly. “He has always guided and encouraged me to follow my dreams.”
Now that Shari’s daughter is old enough to talk on the phone, Shari has been thrilled to watch her form the same kind of relationship with her grandfather. “For her to say to me, ‘I want to call Papa and to tell him about my day,’ is pretty amazing,” Shari said. “It’s a very unique kind of relationship and it makes me overjoyed to see it continue with my child.”