FRANKFORT – Charles Snavely is the secretary of the energy and environment cabinet in Kentucky.
If you ask him, it’s just as important that he is a community college graduate.
Snavely, 60, was appointed to the cabinet level position earlier this year by Governor Matt Bevin.
“This was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said Snavely. “Retirement was just not for me.”
At the end of 2013, Snavely began to phase into what he thought was retirement. It was the end of a successful 35-year span as a coal executive that included stints with A.T. Massey Coal Company, James River Coal Company, International Coal Group and Arch Coal, where he was President of Eastern Operations.
That’s when he got the call from the Bevin administration.
Opportunity knocked. And he answered.
Snavely, who graduated from Prestonsburg Community College (now Big Sandy Community and Technical College) in 1975, completed his undergraduate degree in mining engineering from Virginia Tech in 1977.
During his time as a coal executive, he decided to return to school as part of a new Executive MBA program through a partnership with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. He was part of the program’s inaugural graduating class in 2013.
“I was once told that in life many things can be taken away from you,” he recalled. “No one can take your education away from you.”
Snavely said his time at Prestonsburg Community College was instrumental in influencing his decision to become a mine executive. The mentorship of professors such as John D. Sammons, Ken Fuller and Dr. Charles Robertson still influence him every day.
“I know John D. Sammons mentored many, many engineers,” Snavley added. “It was not only the instruction, but also the attention I received.”
During his career, Snavely had many employees ask his advice on college. Those employees were proud to have the opportunity to send their child to college and many of them were first generation college students.
“I always advised them to send their child to a community college,” said Snavely. “At 18 years old, children are not sure what they want to be. It’s less expensive and students get the attention they need at a community college. I got excellent attention in every class I had at Prestonsburg Community College. That was very important.”