Meet Eleni Kounalakis
As the proud daughter of Greek immigrants and a native Californian, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis has a deep-rooted love for her home state that began when her father immigrated to the United States from Greece.
Like many immigrants, her family had humble beginnings and understood the value and opportunity this country offers. Her father worked in the fields and later as a waiter in California’s Governor’s mansion. Little did young Eleni know, that just one generation later, she would be serving as the first woman elected Lieutenant Governor at the same place her father began his American dream.
Eleni is a proud daughter of California and credits her and her family’s success to the opportunities California gave them. As governor, Eleni will work day in and day out to make sure every Californian has the opportunities her family had.
Her gratitude for her home state and passion for ensuring every family has the same shot at a brighter future are what led her to a career in public service. In 2010, she was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Hungary by President Barack Obama where she worked to promote democracy and America’s interests abroad for three and a half years. When she came home, she ran for public office becoming the first woman Lieutenant Governor of California. If elected Governor, she’ll make history once again as the first woman to lead California.
As Lieutenant Governor, Eleni has a record of getting things done. She has helped Californians by making college more accessible to working families, building more affordable student housing, fighting tuition increases, and making it easier to transfer to a 4-year university from a community college. She has been a proud leader in California’s fight against climate change and has showcased California’s progress and leadership on a global level. Eleni is a champion for women and gender equality, fighting for laws to protect women from sexual assault and expanding access to reproductive choice in California.
A proud mother, daughter, advocate, and leader, Eleni knows the struggles Californians face and has the experience and grit to bring meaningful change to her home state. She is a fierce fighter and strives to build a future where everyone — regardless of race, class, or immigration status — has the same opportunity for a better future that she has had.
Eleni lives in San Francisco with her husband, veteran journalist Dr. Markos Kounalakis. They have two sons Neo and Eon.