Meet Eleni Kounalakis


Meet Eleni Kounalakis. Lifelong Democrat. Mother. Businesswoman. Children's advocate. And Former US Ambassador appointed by President Barack Obama.

She's the proud daughter of an immigrant father who came to California from Greece at 14 years old, alone and penniless. Her mother was an elementary school teacher who hand-sewed matching outfits for Eleni and her three siblings. Her father started out as a farm worker outside of Sacramento, and he used the values of hard work, education, and determination to realize the American Dream. 

Eleni earned an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and an MBA in Business from the University of California at Berkeley to earn her own piece of the American Dream.

She used grit and determination to become a successful businesswoman who helped create hundreds of good-paying construction jobs, and she's given back to her community and California kids as an advocate for early childhood education on the First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism. As a lifelong Democratic Party activist, Eleni's been a five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

In 2010, Eleni was appointed by President Barack Obama as America’s Ambassador to Hungary -- the first Greek American woman Ambassador in U.S. history. She worked side-by-side with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting democracy. In 2015, Eleni published the critically acclaimed biography, Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest.

Eleni was a key policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign. Governor Jerry Brown chose Eleni to lead the International Trade and Investment Advisory Council where she continues to apply her skills as a diplomat, and she was tapped by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee as his most recent appointee to the San Francisco Port Commission.

Today, as a candidate for California Lt. Governor, Eleni will never back down when it comes to fighting for California families. She'll stand up for a woman’s right to choose and for equal rights for all Californians. Eleni knows our economy thrives when we create good paying jobs and affordable health care for all and that means making higher education and vocational training more affordable for all Californians. The rights of immigrants and DREAMers are under assault and Eleni will fight to protect our most vulnerable. And Eleni will use the Lt. Governor’s office as a bully pulpit to stand up to the biggest bully of them all -- Donald Trump.

Eleni lives in San Francisco with her husband, Markos, and their two sons.