APRIL 24, 2017 - Obama-Appointed Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis Announces Bid For California Lieutenant Govenor
First Greek American Woman Ambassador and Life-Long California Democrat Pledges to Stand Up For California Families Against Donald Trump
San Francisco, CA -- Today, former Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis kicked off her campaign for Lt. Governor of California. In a video announcing her candidacy, Kounalakis vowed to never back down in the fight for good paying jobs and affordable health care for all and pledged to protect immigrants, DREAMers and Democratic values from assault by the Trump administration.
"I'm the proud daughter of an immigrant father who came to California from Greece at 14 years old, alone and penniless," Kounalakis said in her announcement. "My Dad 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.
"Those were the values I drew on when President Barack Obama chose me to be the American Ambassador to Hungary -- and the first Greek American woman ambassador in U.S. history -- working side-by-side with President Obama and Secretary Clinton promoting democracy.
"And they're the same values that guide me today. They're the reason I'm running for Lt. Governor. And why I'll never back down when it comes to fighting for California families."
Kounalakis begins the campaign as the only Northern Californian and Democratic woman in the race, and comes armed with a growing list of endorsements from prominent Democratic elected officials, like Sacramento Mayor and former California State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.
Kounalakis is a business woman and diplomat. She was appointed by President Barack Obama as Ambassador in 2010. She is a lifelong Democrat and five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and worked as an advocate for early childhood education as a member of California's First 5 Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.
She was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to lead the California International Trade and Investment Advisory Council, and also serves as a member of the San Francisco Port Commission. Prior to serving our country in the diplomatic corps, she was president of AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, where she grew up. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Dartmouth College. She and her husband, Markos, live in San Francisco where they are raising their two sons.