FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SACRAMENTO – Today, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis will attend her first meeting as an ex-officio voting member of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Board of Governors. On Friday night, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 820, a budget trailer bill approved by the California State Legislature that adds the Lieutenant Governor to the CCC Board of Governors.
The move establishes Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, and all future lieutenant governors of California, as the only member of every governing board overseeing California’s public higher education system. It also brings the voice of a statewide elected leader to all three institutions: the CCC Board of Governors, University of California (UC) Regents and California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees.
“I thank the Governor and legislative leadership for recognizing that the people of California deserve an elected representative on the oversight boards of all of our state’s exceptional systems of public higher education,” said Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. “The Lieutenant Governor’s office is well positioned to be the voice of all Californians across these institutions. With 2.1 million students, the California Community College system is the largest higher education system in the United States. It is the leading provider of career education and training that Californians need right now, and one of the most important tools we have to promote social and economic mobility. I look forward to having a seat at this table, and am equally excited to provide continuity across these three governing bodies today and for all future administrations to come.”
The announcement comes at a time that the nexus between the CCC and California’s other higher education systems is stronger than ever, with 29% of all UC graduates and 51% of all CSU graduates starting at a community college.
“We are pleased to welcome the Lieutenant Governor to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and commend Governor Newsom for supporting the new addition,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “As a member of the UC Board of Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis has been a consistent voice in support of public higher education and for all students. I look forward to working with her to advance the Vision for Success for California’s community college students and to advocate for the financial support that our students deserve.”
A live stream of today’s meeting can be found here.
Eleni Kounalakis is the 50th lieutenant governor of California and the first woman elected to the position. From 2010 to 2013, Kounalakis served as President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom designated Kounalakis as his Representative for International Affairs and Trade Development, and as Chair of the corresponding Interagency Committee that oversees the state’s trade, investment and international relations. Kounalakis also serves on the three-member State Lands Commission, and as a voting member of the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees.