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Perspectives on Democracy: A Conversation Between Eleni Kounalakis and Michael Ignatieff

Online Event
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Monday, June 14, 2021, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Co-organized by CEU Democracy Institute and its journal, the Review of Democracy, the event will offer a conversation on democracy, populism and polarization with Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis, Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, and Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of CEU.


The discussion will be streamed live on the Institute’s Facebook page. If you are interested in following it, then please join the Facebook event as well.


Eleni KounalakisAmbassador Eleni Kounalakis (ret.) is Lieutenant Governor of California. She was sworn in as the 50th Lieutenant Governor of California by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7th, 2019. She is the first woman elected Lt. Governor of California. From 2010 to 2013, Lt. Governor Kounalakis served as President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Following her posting to Budapest, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to chair the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment in 2014. She was a Virtual Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research between 2014 and 2017, specializing in international trade and immigration, and is currently a director of the Association of American Ambassadors and a National Democratic Institute “Ambassadors Circle” advisor.

Prior to her public service, Lt. Governor Kounalakis was president of one of California’s most respected housing development firms, AKT Development, where she worked for 18 years. She built master-planned communities and delivered quality housing to the Sacramento region’s working families, earning her recognition as one of the capital region’s most prominent businesswomen. Passionate about early childhood development, Lt. Governor Kounalakis served as a member of California’s First Five Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Eleni Kounalakis graduated from Dartmouth College in 1989 and earned her master’s in business administration (MBA) from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 1992. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the American College of Greece. She is married to Dr. Markos Kounalakis and they are the parents of two teenage sons.

Michael IgnatieffMichael Ignatieff is President and Rector of CEU. He was elected President and Rector in 2016. Previously he served as Edward R. Murrow Chair of Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. An international commentator on contemporary issues of democracy, human rights, and governance and a Canadian citizen, Ignatieff is also an award-winning writer, teacher, former politician, and historian with a deep knowledge of Central and Eastern Europe.

He received his doctorate in History from Harvard University and has held academic posts at Kings College, Cambridge, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. He served in the Canadian Parliament and was Leader of the Liberal Party. His books include The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Blood and Belonging (1993), The Warrior’s Honour (1997), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017).