This series highlights our PaleoWest Ambassadors—regional leaders in cultural resource management who provide oversight and mentorship in field and office settings while promoting our cutting-edge digital workflow systems. Ambassadors set the bar wherever they are working, provide leadership while building that capacity in others, and are ready to deploy for projects in a variety of settings.
We would like to introduce Fernando Ramirez-Cotto, our longest-serving Ambassador:
Many archaeologists can trace their passion back to a pivotal childhood memory. For Fernando Ramirez-Cotto, his key moment occurred later while studying anthropology at Temple University. During an annual break, Fernando headed to Oman for a bioarchaeology dig to collect geospatial data. As a bonus, he was able to shadow others on their excavations, which inspired him to try archaeology himself after graduating.
Fernando’s path to PaleoWest began with a project at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where George Washington and his army fought for survival through the brutal winter of 1777–1778. Fernando was working with multiple CRM firms at the time and couldn’t pass up a National Historic Park excavation. But there was a catch—working conditions required crew members to wear HAZMAT-level PPE for hours every day in humid conditions under the July sun.
Such conditions were not for the faint of heart, but Fernando noticed something. “I was really impressed with our field managers, who despite the heat were working just as hard as the rest of us out there. They held everyone, including themselves, to a high standard and rewarded hard work, which I really appreciated and found unique at the time. This experience led me to accept more projects with PaleoWest,” he said. He soon realized this was a consistent theme:
“PaleoWest continued to be the top firm I had worked for regarding reward and recognition and growth opportunities, so when the offer for a full-time position came around, it was really a no-brainer.”
When asked what led him to pursue the Ambassador role, Fernando cited his love for well-executed fieldwork with an eye toward quality, safety, and team development—an exceptional fit with Ambassador values. He also shared his thoughts on the Program’s potential: “I felt the Ambassadors Program was a step in the right direction to push the cultural resource management industry forward. I envisioned the Program not only as a way to improve the quality of fieldwork across our company, but also as a way to continuously promote a high-quality workplace where people genuinely enjoy and are proud of their work they produce while feeling safe, appreciated, and supported.”
Fernando’s Ambassador work includes serving on two large Phase II projects in Louisiana requiring high-level coordination and logistics, plus other challenges that enabled marked growth for Fernando and ultimately other team members. He reflected, “This role was rewarding as it allowed me to mentor highly-talented individuals and consider what good field leadership means objectively, apart from one’s own style.”
Fernando found the mentorship aspect on these projects a standout factor highlighting the Program’s unique appeal. He explained,
“Watching our team members growing into leadership roles in their own manner was a great experience, and I certainly learned a thing or two myself. Having the space and support to engage in this is a truly novel aspect of the Ambassadors Program and one of the many reasons I look forward to continuing service in this role.”
Thank you to Fernando and our leaders behind the Ambassador Program! We’re excited to continue this important work benefiting our field crew members and the CRM industry at large.
Did you know we’re looking for new Ambassadors? Check out our job posting here!