Kounalakis, candidate for Lt. Governor, visits UC Merced as part of her summer tour through the Central Valley

Merced, CA – Eleni Kounalakis, candidate for Lt. Governor, met with leaders at University of California, Merced today to discuss the state of higher education in California and to tour their $1.3 billion 2020 Project expansion efforts.

Kounalakis said, “It was great meeting these outstanding leaders at UC Merced today to hear about all the progress happening on their campus - from stem cell innovation to nicotine and cannabis research - and their work in the community to encourage more young people to apply to college.”

She continued, “California’s universities have been a focal point of my summer tour of the Central Valley because I strongly believe that higher education is the key to California’s future. But right now, the cost of higher education is out of control. I’m the only candidate in this race who has pledged to oppose all tuition hikes on California’s students, and as Lt. Governor, I will make it a top priority to bring down the cost of higher education and ensure more Californians can have the opportunity to walk the pathway of the American Dream - just like I had.”

If elected California’s next Lt. Governor, Kounalakis would serve on the CSU Board of Trustees and the UC Board of Regents. She has made affordable higher education a key tenant of her campaign platform.


Top: Kounalakis walks with Director of Strategic Communications Richard Cummings at UC Merced.

Bottom: Kounalakis pictured with (Left to Right) Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Charles Nies, UC Merced student Berenice Ballinas, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget Veronica Mendez, and Interim Executive Chancellor and Provost Dr. Gregg Camfield.

Kounalakis was the top vote-getter in the June Primary, winning 28 counties across the state. She is the only Democratic woman in the race for Lt. Governor and would be the first woman elected Lt. Governor in California history. 

Kounalakis kicked off her campaign in 2017 by visiting all 58 counties in California. She spent the summer and fall traveling across the state, meeting with community leaders, organizations and activists.

She has been endorsed by prominent elected officials and organizations, including U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, the California Federation of Teachers, the California League of Conservation Voters, EMILY’s List, Equality California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, California State University Employees Union SEIU 2579, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., Representatives Nanette Barragan, Ami Bera, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney, Jimmy Panetta, Eric Swalwell, and Mike Thompson, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Nury Martinez, and dozens of Democratic clubs across California.

Her blend of experience in public service and as a successful businesswoman, economic advisor, and job creator make her uniquely qualified to serve as Lt. Governor. She was appointed by President Barack Obama as Ambassador to Hungary in 2010. Prior to serving our country overseas, she was president of AKT Development in Sacramento, where she helped deliver tens of thousands of affordable homes for middle-class families. Kounalakis was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to chair the California International Trade and Investment Advisory Council, and she worked as an advocate for early childhood education as a member of California's First 5 Commission and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Kounalakis was born and raised in Sacramento and 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 teenage sons.

You can learn more about her campaign and see her growing endorsement list at