Officially In: Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis to Budapest

Budapest at NightImage by szeke via Flickr

On October 9 President Obama announced his intent to nominate Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis to be the US Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Below is the official bio released by the WH:

Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis is a Northern California businesswoman, civic leader and philanthropist. As president of AKT Development Corporation, one of California’s largest land development firms, Mrs. Kounalakis has spearheaded major projects that are now home to thousands of families. Passionate about the need to house California’s growing population while working toward a sustainable environment, she has worked tirelessly on public policy issues both locally and nationally.

Mrs. Kounalakis served two terms as a California State World Trade Commissioner, where she engaged in the dynamics of the global economy. She traveled extensively as part of her cross-cultural work with the World Council of Religions for Peace, for which she engaged in the diplomacy of global interfaith dialogue. She is a first generation American and an active member of the national Greek American community. She was the Pan-Arcadian Federation of America’s 2006 person of the year, and was recently awarded the medal of St. Paul, the Greek Orthodox Church of America’s highest honor. Mrs. Kounalakis is a trustee of Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve and sits on Conservation Fund’s National Forum on Children and Nature.

She earned an MBA from the University of California – Berkeley and her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth.

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Legation Budapest was raised to Embassy status on Nov 28, 1966. Since 1960, 10 of the 15 ambassadors appointed to US Embassy Budapest had been non-career appointees. If confirmed, Ms. Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis would replace April H. Foley of New York who was appointed ambassador to Budapest during President G.W. Bush’s second term.

According to Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis has contributed $4,600 to Barack Obama’s campaign. She is actually one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most ardent supporters and raised more than $1 million for her campaign. In 2008, she joined the rest of the Tsakopoulos family and threw her support behind Barack Obama.

Ms. Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis and her family have endowed several chairs in Hellenic studies at major American universities. In 2006, Georgetown University inaugurated the Eleni and Markos Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair in Hellenic Studies, as part of an unprecedented family initiative to promote Hellenic Studies at major American universities. The Sacramento family has also endowed chairs at Columbia University and Stanford University. According to this, a family donation to California State University, Sacramento also created a library of 70,000 written works reflecting ancient and modern Hellenic civilization. Ms. Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis’ husband, Markos publishes the journal of politics and policy, The Washington Monthly.

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