The Team


PaleoWest was founded on the principle of providing the very best cultural resource consultants to our clients. We pride ourselves on being the most innovative team of problem-solvers in the business.


Following are highlights from the expertise of our most senior staff members. Full vitae are available upon request, as is additional information on the remainder of PaleoWest’s extensive team of technical and administrative support staff.

  • Tom  Motsinger, M.A., RPA    President and Senior Archaeologist

    Tom Motsinger founded PaleoWest after 24 years providing archaeology consulting services, including managing some of the largest and most complex archaeology projects in the western U.S. As an archaeologist, Tom has published scientific articles in professional archaeological journals such as Kiva and Journal of Field Archaeology, contributed chapters to edited volumes for major publishers, and co-edited such volumes himself. This combination of scientific credentials, business acumen, and proven success in solution-oriented consulting were poured as the foundation of PaleoWest and continues to guide the firm’s approach.

  • Kevin Thompson, M.A., RPA  Vice President

    Kevin Thompson brings more than 30 years of high-level experience in cultural resource management across the western United States and the Pacific to PaleoWest’s Denver office. His lengthy record of success for clients includes the $14 million Animas-La Plata Water Storage Project in Colorado, the Entrega/REX pipeline and the Exxon LaBarge Project across Wyoming, and several large environmental impact statements. Kevin has authored scientific articles, technical documents, and professional peer-reviewed papers concerning the archaeology of the Northern Colorado River Basin and the Intermountain West. Kevin now serves as Vice President in our Denver, Colorado office. Kevin currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Cultural Resources Association, the national trade organization for cultural-resource firms.

  • Clint Helton, M.A., RPA   Vice President

    Clint Helton has over 20 years of professional experience in environmental consulting within the United States and internationally, and is a technical expert in cultural resources and cultural heritage studies. Clint regularly directs and manages teams, interfaces with clients and regulators, acts as senior technical consultant, provides expert witness testimony, and leads technical studies and environmental assessments in support of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), among others.  Clint has completed hundreds of projects throughout the United States, particularly in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Wyoming, and has significant experience supporting both commercial and government sector clients with a multitude of project types, including solar and wind energy, power plant licensing, oil and gas transmission and development, transportation, land development, water, and public works.  Throughout his career, Mr. Helton has held roles in operations, project delivery, project management, and business development. Mr. Helton is a highly effective leader and an innovative problem solver, making him a valuable asset to any team.


  • Vanessa Mirro, M.A., RPA Vice President

     Vanessa Mirro has 20 years of experience in cultural resources management (CRM) in California, the eastern United States, and Canada. Her areas of expertise include project management, business development, tribal consultation, and regulatory compliance. She has been a leader in the CRM industry and has held executive, board, and chair positions for several large CRM firms and various heritage organizations, including American Cultural Resources Association and the Register of Professional Archaeologists. She has directed hundreds of projects and prepared and implemented cultural resources management and treatment plans for various transportation, renewable energy, water infrastructure and storage, gas and electric transmission, and urban development projects to ensure compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA, CEQA, and other federal and state laws. She successfully managed numerous large-scale, multiyear projects, such as Metropolitan Water District’s San Diego 6 Pipeline Projects (SD6) in Riverside and San Diego counties; PG&E’s Hinkley Groundwater Remediation Project in San Bernardino County; and the State Route 79 Realignment Project in Riverside County. As well, Ms. Mirro has conducted successful consultation with numerous Native American groups and resource agencies.


  • Noel Motsinger  Chief Administrative Officer

    Noel Motsinger joined PaleoWest in 2009, coming from 12 years in the student financial aid industry. She has a strong background in working with federal Title IV and state regulations, helping postsecondary educational institutions navigate the complexities of implementing and maintaining programs under those rules. In her role at PaleoWest, she is responsible for overseeing the administrative functions of the company and federal government contracting.

  • Shawn Fehrenbach, M.A., RPA Chief Operating Officer

    Shawn Fehrenbach has served with PaleoWest since 2010 as Archaeologist, Project Director, Director of Graphics and GIS, Chief Information Officer, and was appointed PaleoWest’s COO in March of 2015. As head of operations, Shawn ensures our methods are on the cutting edge to enhance PaleoWest’s efficiency and the quality of our work products. Shawn directs PaleoWest’s IT systems, oversees the management and analysis of spatial and tabular datasets, and monitors training initiatives and project execution company-wide. He has helped develop the PaleoWay system, using iPad tablets and data management systems that integrate digital data collected in the field into a seamless workflow for analysis and report production in the office. In addition to his work in the Southwest, Shawn has experience working in the American Midwest, the Hawaiian Islands, and Southeast Asia.

  • Scott Courtright Project Director

    Scott Courtright serves as a Project Director in the Phoenix office and joined PaleoWest in 2014. He has over 20 years experience in the southwest and has over 15 years experience with Arizona Department of Transportation projects. He has supervised multiple survey, testing, and data recovery projects within Arizona, southern Utah, and Nevada. He is knowledgeable in the Section 106 process and many state and local ordinances. His research interests include a multi-year, volunteer research project he directed on the Tonto National Forest that investigated an aggregated prehistoric community and lithic quarry near Perry Mesa north of the metro Phoenix area.

  • Dennis Gilpin, M.A., RPA Senior Archaeologist, Ethnographer, and Historian

    Dennis Gilpin carries more than 30 years of experience with all phases of archaeology. He has directed archaeological testing and data recovery at Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Pueblo, Navajo, and Euroamerican sites. He is particularly adept with Archaic period archaeology, Pueblo architecture, prehistoric agriculture, and historical archaeology. He is well known for his discoveries of early maize in the Chinle Valley, his research on the Chacoan system and the transition to modern Puebloan settlement, and his studies in Navajo archaeology and history. Also a highly regarded applied ethnographer, Dennis has conducted ethnographic research and tribal consultation among dozens of tribes in the western U.S. A past Registrar of Professional Archaeologists, Dennis serves as Senior Archaeologist, Ethnographer, and Historian in our Flagstaff, Arizona office.


  • Chris North, M.A., RPA Senior Project Director / Office Principal

    Chris North serves as Office Principal and Senior Project Director for PaleoWest in our Phoenix, Arizona headquarters. Chris has 17 years of archaeological experience in the Great Basin and Southwest regions. He is an accomplished project director and has successfully managed numerous large-scale surveys, including the $7 million Arizona Public Service Company transmission line system survey. He has also directed testing and data recovery projects throughout the Southwest and has served as principal investigator on multiple ethnohistoric overviews. Chris has authored or co-authored several articles and chapters in peer-reviewed journals and monographs on such diverse topics as Clovis point distributions, Hopi Yellow Ware production, and Apache and Navajo archaeology and history.


  • James Potter, Ph.D., RPA Senior Archaeologist

    James Potter has been with PaleoWest intermittently since 2011 and now serves as a Senior Archaeologist and Principal Investigator on projects throughout the western U.S. and as the Office Principal for the California office in Pasadena. Prior to coming on board with PaleoWest he directed the Animas-La Plata reservoir project in southwestern Colorado, the largest public archaeology project in the country at the time (2001-2010). When he first joined the PaleoWest team he served as Principal Investigator for the Navajo Gallup project before venturing to California in 2012. Since moving to California he has been involved with some of the most interesting archaeology in the state, including data recovery excavations at San Gabriel Mission. He is widely published in American Antiquity, Journal of Field Archaeology, Kiva, and the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and is the editor of the book entitled The Social Construction of Communities published by AltaMira Press.


  • Ted Roberts, M.A., RPA Senior Project Director / Office Principal

    Ted Roberts serves as the Principal in PaleoWest’s New York office. Roberts has served many roles within PaleoWest including Senior Project Director and the Director of Field Operations since his hire in 2009. His responsibilities include business development, project and office management, and regional strategic planning. Additional responsibilities include permitting, marketing, training temporary and permanent staff company-wide, execution of fieldwork, report preparation, artifact analysis, and scheduling. Ted Roberts is the past President of the Arizona Archaeological Council (AAC), a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA), a  member of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), and the Midwest Archaeological Council (MAC). Finally, he is a full member of the New York Archaeological Council (NYAC), the New York State Archaeological Association (NYSAA) and the Professional Archaeologists of New York City (PANYC).

  • Rebecca Schwendler, Ph.D., RPA Principal Investigator / Project Director

    Rebecca Schwendler carries to PaleoWest more than 20 years of expertise in academic and CRM archaeology, as well as experience serving as the Public Lands Advocate and advisory archaeologist for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Western Regional Office in Denver. Rebecca’s expertise is varied, but includes a research focused on hunter-gatherer social organization and trade. Rebecca has taught several undergraduate archaeology courses, authored multiple peer-reviewed articles, presented numerous papers at professional meetings, and given many public talks, fostering her passion for archaeological education. Her professional service has included leadership in the Society for American Archaeology’s Program, Media Relations, and Student Paper Award committees, the latter as Committee Chair for three years.

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