Before accepting President Obama’s nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis was president of AKT Development Corporation, one of California’s largest and most respected land development firms. A prominent businesswoman, Ambassador Kounalakis earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. She served two terms as a California State World Trade Commissioner and sat on the board of directors of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Long interested in democracy and global affairs, Ambassador Kounalakis and her husband, veteran print journalist Markos Kounalakis, established the Tsakopoulos Kounalakis lecture series at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Further combining their dedication to democracy with pride in their Hellenic heritage, they established the Eleni and Markos Tsakopoulos Kounalakis chair in Hellenic studies at Georgetown University and the Tsakopoulos Kounalakis chair in honor of Constantine Mitsotakis at Stanford University.
Ambassador Kounalakis was a staunch advocate for interfaith dialogue with the World Council of Religions for Peace, work for which she was recently awarded the medal of St. Paul, the Greek Orthodox Church of America’s highest honor. Her appointment by the Mayor of San Francisco to serve as a trustee of the renowned San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center allowed her to combine her skills in real estate with her love of the arts.
Ambassador Kounalakis served four times as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and as an at-large member of the California State Central Committee. An active outdoorswoman, she enjoys hiking and skiing with her family and served as a trustee of Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve and on the Conservation Fund’s National Forum on Children and Nature.