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As we wrap up May, we reflect on a month dedicated to awareness, celebration, and progress. May was Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to recommit to fostering a community where every Californian feels seen, heard, and valued. Remember, if you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, call or text 988 for help. You are never alone. 

May also marked Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of the resilience, achievements, and contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander community to our Golden State. With over six million Californians of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, California honors our AAPI communities’ essential role in driving our state and nation forward.  

Additionally, May was National Small Business Month. Small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy. With the most small businesses in the country, nearly half of which are minority-owned and leading in women-owned enterprises, California continues to thrive on innovation and growth. From corner cafes to tech startups, our small businesses fuel our state’s dynamism and prosperity. 

On a more serious note, the fight for abortion rights continues nationwide, but California remains unwavering in protecting reproductive rights. We are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring reproductive freedom for all within our state and our neighbors across our borders. 

California remains a leader in the global fight against climate change. Our investments in clean energy resources like solar, wind, hydro, and batteries are powering nearly 40 million Californians and the world’s fifth-largest economy with clean energy. Our investments, initiatives, and global partnerships ensure we lead the charge toward a sustainable, clean energy future. 

As we look to the future, we remain hopeful. Progress continues, but the work is far from over. Together, we can create a safer, brighter California where the right to choose is always protected. 

 

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Eleni Kounalakis
Lieutenant Governor of California

Community 

 

Harvey Milk Day 

In honor of Harvey Milk Day, Lt. Governor Kounalakis, serving as Acting Governor at the time, officially declared May 22, 2024, as Harvey Milk Day to commemorate the pivotal contributions Harvey Milk made to California’s fight for freedom, justice, and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.   

Link to full Press Release. 

Latina Action Day 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) to provide brief remarks at the 30th Annual Latina Action Day Conference. Over 400 Latinas from throughout the state came together for Latina Action Day at the State Capitol to advocate for Latinas’ voices statewide on issues such as education, healthcare, the economy, and civic empowerment.

APAPA Asian Heritage Month Celebration 

In honor of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended and spoke at APAPA’s Asian Heritage Month Celebration. The event was a celebration of cultural diversity and APAPA recognized community leaders who have made outstanding and positive contributions to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. California legislators and public officials hosting APAPA student interns this spring were thanked and recognized. The Lt. Governor’s office is currently hosting two interns from the APAPA Internship Program. 

California Professional Firefighter’s 49th Convention 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis provided remarks at the 49th Annual Biennial Convention of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF). CPF’s 35,000 firefighters and medical service personnel across California are on the front lines of some of the state’s most challenging issues, such as wildfires, public safety, homelessness, and health care. 

Honoring the Legacy of Reverand Cecil Williams 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended the Celebration of Life for Reverand Cecil Williams, a civil rights activist, visionary leader, and beloved San Franciscan who cofounded Glide—a community that transformed countless lives across the city of San Francisco.  

Thanks to Reverand Williams’s work, Glide has been at the forefront of addressing some of California’s most pressing issues, such as poverty, housing and homelessness, and racial and social justice. Over 500,000 meals have been served to unhoused and low-income community members in San Francisco, thanks to Glide. 

Consumer Attorneys of California’s Lobby Day 

The Lt. Governor joined Consumer Attorneys of California for their annual Sacramento Lobby Day and participated in a conversation with President Kathryn Stebner on the stage during lunch. The Lt. Governor discussed the court system’s importance to maintain a vibrant democracy and its challenges and opportunities. 

California State Pipe Trades Council Convention 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended and provided remarks at the 102nd California State Pipe Trades Council Convention. The Pipe Trades Council comprises 28 labor groups of plumbers, pipefitters, and sprinkler fitters. The local union represents approximately 36,000 union members in California. In her remarks, Lt. Governor Kounalakis mentioned builders’ role in addressing issues such as housing and construction of infrastructure to reach California’s 2045 climate goals. 

Discussion on School Safety 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined members of the Los Angeles School Police Management Association, the Los Angeles School Police Officers Association, LAUSD, and community members to discuss student safety at our K-12 campuses. 

United Contractors’ Annual Legislative Reception 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined the United Contractors (UCON) for their legislative reception. UCON is California’s premier construction trade association, representing heavy civil engineering contractors across the state. Founded in 1970, UCON represents over 550 union-affiliated contractors and associate firms across the state, who employ more than 30 million man-hours and $50 billion in construction revenue annually. Since 2014, United Contractors has helped secure more than $90 billion in public works infrastructure across California. 

Israel Independence Day 

On May 13, Lt. Governor Kounalakis delivered remarks at a reception in San Francisco hosted by Israeli Consul General Marco Sermoneta in honor of Israel’s 76th Independence Day. In her speech, she highlighted the deep and longstanding bonds of friendship between California and Israel since the state of Israel was founded and the immeasurable contributions made to our state by the Jewish community. She noted that there has been an increase in antisemitic speech and acts in our state since the terrible and barbaric attack on Israel last October 7th and assured those gathered that the ties between California and Israel will remain strong. 

Honoring California’s Fallen Heroes 

May is the month our nation and our state honor our law enforcement officers, particularly those who have given their lives in the line of duty the previous year. Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined Governor Gavin Newsom and other state officials in honoring California’s fallen heroes. On May 6th, she participated in the annual California Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony, where she met with and addressed the families of the fallen. The next day, May 7th, she attended the annual California Highway Patrol (CHP) memorial ceremony, hosted by CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee, at which the 232 members of the CHP, who have given their lives in the service of our state since the CHP’s founding in 1929, were remembered. 

JPAC Capitol Summit 2024 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis participated in a conversation with Joy Sisisky, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, at the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California’s (JPAC) annual Capitol event. This two-day summit provided an opportunity for members and allies to learn, network, and advocate for the Jewish community’s priorities. 

Higher Education 

 

UC Regents Updates  

Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended this month’s UC Regents meeting. Highlights included voting for a new student housing project at UC Santa Barbara (2,100) and voting for new Board of Regents Chair Janet Reilly and Vice Chair Maria Anguiano. The Lt. Governor also continued her commitment to opposing tuition increases by voting ‘no’ on proposed Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition increases. 

 

California Community College Board of Governors Updates  

Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended the Board of Governors’ May meeting, highlighted by approving regulatory action that will implement changes required by AB 1540 (M. Fong, 2023). AB 1540, co-sponsored by the Lt. Governor, streamlined the process for undocumented students to apply for non-resident tuition exemptions (e.g., The AB 540 Affidavit). 

 

CSU Board of Trustees Updates  

Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended the May Board of Trustees meeting and cast her vote for various items, including a proposed housing project at CSU Fullerton that will add 390 affordable housing beds and 120 standard-rate beds. 

 

Senate Confirmation Hearing for Regents Greg Sarris & Nancy Lee 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis spoke at the Senate Rules Committee hearing in support of the confirmation of Chairman Greg Sarris and Nancy Lee to the University of California Board of Regents. Committee members voted unanimously to advance the confirmation to the Senate Floor. 

International Affairs 

 

South Australia & California Partnership to Fight Climate Change 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis welcomed the Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas, and the South Australian delegation for a meeting and signing ceremony, furthering California and South Australia’s partnership in tackling the climate crisis.  

The visit started with a bilateral meeting on both states’ commitments to clean energy developments and renewable hydrogen. Afterward, Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined Tanya Bennett, Consul-General of Australia in Los Angeles, as witnesses to the signing of a Letter of Cooperation (LOC) between California and South Australia, signed by the Premier and Lianne Randolph, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. Through this new partnership, South Australia and California will collaborate on advancing renewable hydrogen and fostering clean energy solutions to move us forward to a sustainable, clean energy future. 

Read the full press release here. 

MOU Signing with GGN & Governor of Korea’s Gyeonggi Provence, Governor Dong Yeon KIM 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis was pleased to join with Governor Newsom on May 6th to welcome California Governor Dong Yeon KIM of Gyeonggi Province, Korea. She acted as a witness as the two Governors signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to enhance ties between California and Gyeonggi in trade, investment, people-to-people ties, and climate change. Gyeonggi Province is the most populous province in Korea and home to Seoul, the country’s capital and largest city. In 2023, Korea was California’s sixth-largest international trading partner. 

EU Delegation Meeting 

On May 15th, Lt. Governor Kounalakis hosted a meeting in Sacramento with the European Union’s (EU) Vice President and High Representative (VHPR) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. She thanked the High Representative for establishing an EU diplomatic presence in San Francisco, the only EU diplomatic outpost not located in a national capital city. VPHR Borrell noted that this move demonstrates Europe’s recognition of California’s leading role on the global stage, especially in high technology and artificial intelligence, among others. The two reaffirmed the shared values and close ties that make California and the EU the closest of partners. 

Guangdong Governor Visit, Bay to Bay Forum 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis welcomed China’s Guangdong Province as part of the “Bay to Bay” conference held on May 28th – 30th in Berkeley and San Francisco, highlighting the sister state/province relationship that California and Guangdong entered into in 2014. Guangdong is China’s most populous and economically productive province.  

 

The California China Climate Institute hosted a series of talks that included officials of the U.S.  and People’s Republic of China governments, focused on the close cooperation on climate that California and partners in China are carrying out. Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended and spoke at the opening dinner of this three-day event, welcoming the delegations from China and Washington, D.C. to California, underlining California’s leadership role in working with international partners to enhance people-to-people ties and combat climate change. 

Environment  

 

Meet & Greet with Environmental Organizations from LA County 

The Lt. Governor met with several leaders and advocates from environmental organizations focused on advancing clean air initiatives in the Los Angeles and Long Beach region. 

Economic Development  

 

Southern California’s World Trade Week 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Long Beach for the 98th annual World Trade Week, where she discussed the importance of trade to California’s economy and how we can strengthen our competitiveness, particularly in light of disruptive forces like climate change, A.I., and global trade dynamics. 

Health 

 

CIRM Swearing-In for Dr. Dean Meltzer 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis announced a new appointee and one reappointment to the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC), the board that governs the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The Lt. Governor appointed Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, as the newest member of the CIRM board. Lt. Governor Kounalakis also reappointed George Blumenthal, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California Santa Cruz, to the ICOC, who serves as an executive officer from a California University. 

 

Read the full press release here.  

Tour of Calidi Biotherapeutics 

In honor of National Cancer Research Month, Lt. Governor Kounalakis toured Calidi Biotherapeutics, a California-based and founded biotech company leading in the emerging cancer treatment and therapy field. Calidi’s proprietary technology is designed to arm the immune system to fight cancer cells. 

PhRMA’s Researcher Day 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis met with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) – a trade group representing and lobbying on behalf of pharmaceutical companies in America. Their team comprises senior leaders from leading research biopharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Genentech.   

The conversation was centered on topics including medical breakthroughs these researchers are working on, including many that are happening right here in California. The Lt. Governor prefaced by describing California as a world-leading hub for research and innovation. 

Gender Equity 

 

SFGMC Crescendo Gala 

This month, Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir (SFGMC) for their Crescendo Gala, where they celebrated the organization’s advocacy and work in advancing LGBTQ+ equality. SFGMC was the first to launch the gay choral movement across the nation. Today, there are over 250 LGBTQ+ choruses worldwide. 

Reproductive Rights 

 

Planned Parenthood Northern California’s 2024 Acts of Courage Event 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis received the “Acts of Courage” award at Planned Parenthood Northern California’s 2024 Acts of Courage Event. The Lt. Governor was acknowledged for ensuring California remains a haven for reproductive freedom for all. Planned Parenthood NorCal has been a beacon of hope and pride for the San Francisco community by providing care to those most vulnerable, especially abortion care, since the fall of Roe v. Wade. 

The Fight for Reproductive Rights Continues  

In the wake of Arizona’s 1864 near-total abortion ban, Governor Newsom signed SB 233 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) and Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) to allow Arizona abortion providers to temporarily provide abortion care to patients from Arizona who travel to California. Lt. Governor Kounalakis was a Co-sponsor of the bill.    

Housing & Homelessness 

 

Tour of LIVIA at Scripps Ranch 

Lt. Governor Kounalakis toured LIVIA at Scripps Ranch, San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) first joint occupancy affordable housing project. LIVIA’s 264-unit complex includes a community garden and a science and technology lab in the works that San Diego Unified students will get to use. Twenty percent of the units are affordable and reserved for SDUSD employees.