Staff Spotlight: John Reynoso
John Reynoso has been working at the AJCC for more than 17 years. Every banner, poster, and ad that you see around the J resulted from John’s creative talent. Although he is now a crucial part of the J’s marketing department, he didn’t start out to be a graphic designer.
“After I graduated high school,” explains John, “I went to Cerritos College taking some childhood development classes because I wanted to be a preschool teacher. I got my Early Childhood Credential and ended up working in that field, ultimately as the Assistant Director at Creative Beginnings in Downey, California. It was great. I loved the people I worked with. My wife, Lisa, (who also worked there) and I made a lot of connections and there are a lot of people we are still close to.” John has been married to Lisa for 20 years. They met in high school when she was 15 and he was 16. Their son Anthony is 19 and is a sophomore at Providence Christian College in Pasadena.
“Unfortunately,” John explains, “I needed to make a change because it’s often difficult for a male to work in a preschool environment. There was a lot of bias toward me as a guy, and a lot of presumptions. I loved the kids. They were great. It was just the parents who didn’t think a male should be working at a preschool that eventually led me to what I really wanted to do, which was to be a graphic designer.” With a laugh, John adds, “I also thought I could make more money.”
John hadn’t been encouraged to be a designer when he was younger, but he had an uncle who was a famous graphic designer and he decided that was what he really wanted to do, so when the preschool job proved challenging, he went back to school. “I went to Platt College in Cerritos (which is no longer there) and got my AA in graphic design. I went to school at night, and my son was only about 2 or 3 years old, and it was challenging for Lisa, but she was great about it all. She was so supportive.
“Platt had a job placement program and they found the job at the J for me. I didn’t even know the JCC was here, and I thought I had to be Jewish to work here, so that was one of my questions when I interviewed with Judy Namak, who I went on to work closely with. And of course, you don’t have to be Jewish!”
When John first started here in 2000, he was part of the two-person Membership and Marketing department with Judy. “We had a very small town feeling. The membership at the J was much smaller then, and our primary goal was to get people to know who we were at the time. We called ourselves, ‘Long Beach’s best kept secret’. As we started to get more members, our graphics needs grew and I became responsible only for the graphics, which was a lot better. It made a lot more sense for me and what I could contribute as a graphic designer. It was very difficult doing both jobs even then, and it would be impossible to handle membership responsibilities and the marketing and graphics deadlines now. I feel blessed that I’m able to do what I do, but it’s still challenging being the only graphic designer!”
“I love working here because the community is so great, and I appreciate how tight-knit and helpful they are. I enjoy working with Aaron, Irene, and Erika in our membership and marketing office. We have a good time and even take dance breaks to renew our energy!” I also really enjoy the relationship I have with Erika, my supervisor (and Director of Marketing). We have figured out a great working style, and I really believe I get a lot more done and I’ve learned a lot because she really understands what I do and how I work best [unsolicited compliment].
“I also really enjoy working here because the J is so family-oriented and understanding about staff wanting to spend time with their family for special occasions, vacations, etc. My son, Anthony, has played baseball his whole life, even now in college, and I haven’t had to miss too many of my son’s games for work. All the directors over the years have been very accommodating of my schedule and because of that I’m really grateful to be working at a place that has those strong family values.”