The D.C. United soccer team has named Danita Johnson, the president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Sparks, as the new president of business operations.
She is now one of the highest-ranking female club executives in league history and the first Black president of a Major League Soccer team.
Johnson was the Sparks’ top-earning corporate sponsor, and between 2014 and 2017, ticket sales increased by 50%.
In particular, the Los Angeles Sparks organization has taught me a lot during my time in the WNBA, Johnson said in a statement.
It is my belief that establishing a winning culture off the field impacts every aspect of the business, from fan interactions to community engagement, and I am committed to doing just this for one of the most storied and decorated clubs in American soccer history.”
Before joining the Sparks, the North Carolina native worked with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and Detroit Shock and the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA G League’s Bakersfield Jam over her nearly two-decade sports career.
D.C. United CEO and co-chairman, Jason Levien, said they are confident in Johnson and believe she is the right person to lead the team’s business and take the club to new heights.
“Throughout her career, Danita has demonstrated the ability to develop a positive and inspiring work culture, and she has done a tremendous job connecting with the communities in which she has lived and worked,” Levien said.
“We are thrilled that she has agreed to join us at this critical moment in D.C. United’s trajectory.”
The 37-year-old will be responsible for growing the fan base, sponsorships, and arranging non-MLS events at Audi Field.
Johnson will also oversee Loudoun United’s business, a second-division team based in Leesburg and owned by the D.C. organization.
Following pressure from Black Players for Change, an MLS organization established in response to international social justice activities in sports this past year, the Major League Soccer (MLS) announced an increase in diversity and inclusion initiatives in October 2020.
About 22% of players are black, however there are only two black coaches, Robin Fraser of Colorado and Thierry Henry of Montreal, and one black general manager, Ali Curtis of Toronto.
Johnson holds a degree from Western Carolina University, is a WISE Within Mentor, a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and sits on the board of the Share Winter Foundation.
She follows in the footsteps of legendary goalie Briana Scurry, one of the first Black professional women soccer players, in paving the way for a more diverse league.