With a sports career spanning nearly two decades, Danita Johnson, the outgoing president of Los Angeles Sparks and its chief operating officer, is now the president of business operations for the DC United soccer team. This makes Johnson the first Black president of a Major League Soccer (MLS) club.
Johnson, who is now one of the highest-ranking female club executives in league history, brings to this position the expertise garnered over the years.
The North Carolina native has 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 before working with the WNBA side, the Los Angeles Sparks, where she helped it see a 50% increase in ticketing revenue between 2014 and 2017, according to Insider Sport.
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“I’ve learned a lot from my time with the WNBA, especially the Los Angeles Sparks organization,” 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.”
In October, last year, the MLS vowed to diversify and be more inclusive after an MLS pressure group, Black Players for Change, was set up as part of global efforts to fight for social justice in sports.
In an interview with Sky Sports, 37-year-old Johnson acknowledged it took a while for the latest appointment to sink in. “I didn’t realize the impact of what this actually meant until it became public, and what that meant for so many people in black and brown communities, and for women, and to truly be a part of history and create a place for inspiration.”
The Western Carolina University alum is also a board member of Share Winter Foundation and a WISE mentor.
D.C. United CEO and co-chairman Jason Levien is proud of their choice and has faith in her abilities to take charge of the helm of affairs of the club. “We are thrilled that she has agreed to join us at this critical moment in D.C. United’s trajectory.”
“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.