California’s First Female Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Was Once a Country Day Cavalier
Women's History in the Making
For seven years, back in the 1970’s and ‘80s, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis was a young student at Country Day. Now she’s making history as the first woman ever elected Lieutenant Governor of California.
Kounalakis was elected in the historic year of 2018, when thousands of women around the country ran for office and won. Many, like Kounalakis, had never run for office before. Kounalakis is also a former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Sworn in by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was just 43 years old, she is one of America’s youngest to serve as a U.S. Ambassador, and the only Greek American woman ever to do so. Prior to her public service, Kounalakis worked for 18 years in her family’s housing development firm, rising from project manager to president. Recognized as one of Sacramento’s most prominent businesswomen, she delivered moderately priced housing to the regions’ families.
A Sacramento native, Lt. Governor Kounalakis came to Country Day in the 3rd grade. She remembers riding the bus every day from across town, with her three siblings, Katina, Athena and Kyriakos. Kounalakis credits Country Day with helping develop her love of learning, and fondly remembers the warm encouragement of all her elementary school teachers. Her most vivid memories include winning a quarter for memorizing the school song (which she can still recite in its entirety!). She also recalls, with deep gratitude, the high standards of excellence set by her middle school teachers including Mr. Pignata, Ms. Alcalay, Ms. Fels and Mr. Neukom. Kounalakis also credits the incredible librarian, Mrs. Gold, with giving her books and materials that helped her chart her pathway toward international relations, and beyond. She is very proud that her nephew and nieces, Angelo, Ana, and Zoe are current students.
Lt. Governor Kounalakis holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a Masters in Business Administration from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the American College of Greece.
“I grew up in the classrooms, on the playground and in the sports fields of SCDS. The culture of excellence, kindness and respect for education that permeated the school shaped my character and helped guide me throughout my life and career. Thank you SCDS for many decades of educating current and future leaders!” Kounalakis said.
Congratulations, Lt. Governor Kounalakis! We are so proud of you and grateful for your service to our country and state.