Eleni Kounalakis: The First Woman Elected Lieutenant Governor of California

Eleni Kounalakis is the first woman to be elected as the Lieutenant Governor of California. On November 6, she was chosen by a margin of 56.6% to 43.3% against her opponent. Kounalakis has a long history of Democratic activism, dating back to her work in the 1992 elections in which California elected two women to the U. S.

Senate. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1989 and earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the U. Prior to her public service, she was president of one of California's most respected housing development firms, AKT Development, where she worked for 18 years. Kounalakis is passionate about early childhood development and served as a member of the California First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

She also began interfaith community work, including time developing faith forums for the World Council of Religions for Peace. While serving as part of Clinton's foreign advisory team, Kounalakis was also involved in raising funds for the campaign in California. The job of lieutenant governor tends to be a low-profile position in California. But the campaign to remove Governor Gavin Newsom will put Kounalakis in the spotlight.

After the elections, she was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as California's Representative for International Affairs and Trade by executive order. Kounalakis received some attention in March when she became the first woman to sign a bill in California while Governor Newsom was out of town. For its work in interfaith dialogues, the Greek Orthodox Church of America awarded Kounalakis its highest honor, the St. Kounalakis Medal.

The first woman elected lieutenant governor of California (although the second to serve in office), Eleni Kounalakis already has her sights set on a higher position. And although she has a deadline of 20 days to set the elections, Kounalakis said the exact date should not affect the process too much. Emily's List is eager to support her as she continues to catalyze change in California.

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