Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis

Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis

Lieutenant Governor of California

Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis was sworn in as the 50th Lieutenant Governor of California by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7th, 2019. She is the first woman elected Lt. Governor of California.

From 2010 to 2013, Lt. Governor Kounalakis served as President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Following her posting to Budapest, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to chair the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment in 2014. She was a Virtual Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research between 2014 and 2017, specializing in international trade and immigration, and is currently a director of the Association of American Ambassadors and a National Democratic Institute “Ambassadors Circle” advisor.

Prior to her public service, Lt. Governor Kounalakis was president of one of California’s most respected housing development firms, AKT Development, where she worked for 18 years. She built master-planned communities and delivered quality housing to the Sacramento region’s working families, earning her recognition as one of the capital region’s most prominent businesswomen. Passionate about early childhood development, Lt. Governor Kounalakis served as a member of California’s First Five Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Eleni Kounalakis graduated from Dartmouth College in 1989 and earned her master’s in business administration (MBA) from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 1992. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the American College of Greece. She is married to Dr. Markos Kounalakis and they are the parents of two teenage sons.