Meet Juan Gutiérrez

Science Communicator – Griffith Observatory, Local 3090

By Oren Peleg

In his role as a science communicator at the Griffith Observatory, Local 3090 member Juan Gutiérrez, 32, answers an array of questions about the cosmos from Angelenos representing all walks of life. But there’s one demographic of answer-seekers that always stands out.

“Kids ask way better questions,” he said. “Adults ask boring questions. ‘Where’s the bathroom?’ ‘Where’s the gift shop?’ Kids aren’t afraid to ask the deep questions about the universe. It’s fun to watch them grapple with the size and scale of the world they live in.”

The Griffith Observatory, one of the city’s top tourist attractions, boasts a robust school program, busing in thousands of young students for field trips every year. Gutiérrez welcomes inquisitive fifth-graders three times a week—his “favorite part of the job.”

Gutiérrez also lead tours, helps showcase exhibits and explains scientific concepts to curious visitors. He takes pride in his ability provide folks with a much-needed sense of wonder and a welcome distraction from daily routine.

“A really great thing about my job is that I get to give people an escape, a sense of perspective, that cosmic perspective. It’s being able to step out from their regular day-to-day lives. The news tends to be a little depressing so it’s nice to get people thinking, standing in awe and reflecting on where they are in the universe.”

Having his first child recently had Gutiérrez, who lives in Glendale, reflecting on his own place in the universe. “It’s a crazy time for me right now with a two-month old. They let anybody have a kid nowadays,” he said laughing.

He credits his union for having his back and supporting his journey into fatherhood.

“I feel very grateful to the union because of the benefits we get,” he said. “We were able to go through Kaiser for the birth of my child and get the subsequent checkups with no hassle. It’s nice to not have to worry about medical bills, which unfortunately worries so many Americans.”

Local 3090 coming through for him during his time of need has even made Gutiérrez more of a labor advocate. He supported the recent United Teachers Los Angeles strike, picketing and attending rallies.

“In our country there’s been a lot of push for right-to-work laws. So, just watching unions fight against that is really inspiring. It’s really cool to see solidarity among the working class.”

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