Eleni Kounalakis Named California’s International Affairs and Trade Chief

Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis has recently been designated by Governor Gavin Newsom as his top representative to advance California’s economic interests abroad.

Eleni Kounalakis was sworn into office as lieutenant governor of California in January, becoming the first woman ever elected to the post.

“As the most diverse state in the nation and the 5th largest economy in the world, California’s leadership on trade, combating climate change, social justice issues and innovation has a global impact,” said Governor Newsom. “I cannot think of a better partner to strengthen our foreign relations and advance our interests abroad than Lt. Governor Kounalakis.”

The executive order creates the International Affairs and Trade Development Interagency Committee under Lt. Governor Kounalakis. A former United States Ambassador, she will serve as Chair of the committee in her new role as the Governor’s International Affairs and Trade Development Representative.

“I am honored to work with Governor Newsom to amplify the voice of California on the world stage, and advance California’s interests and values internationally.” Lt. Governor Kounalakis said. “Our state’s leadership is needed now, more than ever, and sets a standard for democratic values, higher education, and economic innovation.

“As a former U.S. Ambassador, I know firsthand what California means to the world. It’s more important now than ever for our state to take a prominent place on the world stage, bring focus to our international priorities and build partnerships across our borders,” Kounalakis wrote on Twitter.

Kounalakis is a first generation Greek-American and is proud of her roots. Her grandmother Katerina never learned how to read or write. Her father, Angelo Tsakopoulos, came to the United States from Greece at 14 years of age. He had little money, and no English-speaking skills, but went on to become a prominent and wealthy Sacramento real estate developer.

“The path to wisdom is through education,” Kounalakis has said. “This is very personal to me.”