Donald L. Ratliff, age 67, serves as President of Commonwealth Connections, Inc., a consulting company he established after 37 years in various positions in the coal industry. Commonwealth Connections serves the needs of business and industry in the areas of economic development, public policy and governmental affairs, with particular focus on the southwest Virginia region. Mr. Ratliff has served companies as a registered lobbyist in Richmond for over 20 years representing a wide variety of industries. His clients are involved in mineral mines, gas production, road construction, broadband, casinos, energy production and public television. He has helped companies navigate environmental, tax, worker’s compensation, productivity, financial, trucking, franchise, and construction issues in the General Assembly in Virginia. He has assisted companies to secure funding with The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and has worked to resolve issues with the State Corporation Commission, Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the various County Board of Supervisors and County Administrators in our region.
Previously Mr. Ratliff served Alpha Natural Resources as the Vice President - State Governmental Affairs, covering Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wyoming. Prior to the merger with Foundation Coal in August of 2009, he served Alpha as Vice President of External Affairs. In this position, he was responsible for State Governmental Affairs, Public Relations, Management of Corporate Philanthropic Activities and Security for five states. In the past, he has served the El Paso Energy Group as Manager of Health and Safety; moving on in January of 2002 to the Vice President and General Manager of Coastal Coal Company LLC, Kentucky operations, while retaining the responsibilities as Director of Safety for the Coastal Coal Group. In June 2002, he was moved to the position of Vice President of Safety and State Government Affairs for the Coastal Coal Group. Mr. Ratliff has many years of experience in the coal industry, serving from 1997 to 2001 as the Vice President of Health and Safety for the Pittston Coal Management Company. Prior to that, he had served various subsidiaries within the Pittston organization with his many talents, ranging from General Manager of Operations, Manager of Human Resources to Manager of Safety. He also taught Earth Science and Physical Science at Garden High School in Buchanan County from 1975 to 1978. Mr. Ratliff has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology from Carson-Newman College (’75) and a Master’s of Science in Safety from Marshall University (’83).
He is active in many civic and community-oriented activities and is enthusiastically involved with the Shriners, having served as President of both the Wise County Shrine Club and the Powell Valley Shrine Club, plus he served the Kazim Shriner’s in Roanoke, Virginia as Potentate in 2004. He served the South Atlantic Shrine Association as President for 2014. He was elected the Sec/Tres of the South Atlantic Shrine Association in September of 2016 and continues to serve in that capacity for the Association. In August of 2010, he was selected to receive the conferral of the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite Masons.
Mr. Ratliff presently serves on the Appalachian School of Law Board of Trustees, Coalfield Water Development Fund, the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, and an Emeritus Board member of the Southwest Virginia Arts and Crafts Board, including the Trail of the Lonesome Pine and the John Fox House. He has served over 40 years on the Wise County Coal and Gas Road and Improvement Committee. He also serves on the Boards of the Wise County Chamber of Commerce, the Ballad Health Community Benefit and Population Health Committee and the Virginia Energy Workforce Development Board.
Mr. Ratliff has been the recipient of several Virginia Gubernatorial appointments, such as the State Board for the Virginia Community Colleges, the Virginia Coal Mine Safety Board, and the Governor’s Task Force on the Southmountain #3 Mine Disaster,The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Board, the Virginia Gas and Oil Board, Virginia Coal and Energy Commission and the Governor’s Energy Council.
He was granted emeritus status by the Pro-Art Board of Trustees in 2012. He was recognized by the Wise County Chamber of Commerce as the “2010 Citizen of the Year” and by UVA College at Wise as the 2010 “Volunteer of the Year.” Mr. Ratliff was the recipient of the 2011 Virginia State Community College Chancellor’s award for “Leadership in Philanthropy”. In 2010, he was coroneted a 33-degree Mason by the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. Also in 2011 he was awarded the “John Blair Jr. Citation” by the Grand Lodge of Virginia for his vision and leadership for both his masonic work and his work in the communities where he resides. In 2012 he was awarded the “Hall of Honor” by Mountain Empire Community College and he was the recipient of an honorary degree in Humanity of Letters from MECC at the graduation ceremony. He was recognized by the Virginia Association of Children’s Homes in 2014 and presented the Association’s “Distinguished Service to Children Award”. In March of 2015, he was awarded the Community Impact Hero by the Red Cross. His experience and willingness to serve make him an asset to the community and organizations with whom he serves.
Donnie resides in Big Stone Gap, Virginia with his wife, Victoria. He is a member of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Big Stone Gap. He has three sons, Nicholas, Jason and Jared Ratliff and eight grandchildren.