Danita Johnson makes history as first black president of MLS franchise

The Capitol Building in Washington DC

Danita Johnson has been named as the first black president of a Major Soccer League (MLS) club after DC United appointed the 37-year-old as the franchise’s new Head of Business Operations in December.

This month, Johnson, who is the third woman to be named as the president of an MLS franchise, will relocate back to Washington to fill the position previously held by Tom Hunt.

Johnson will make the move from President and Chief Operating Officer of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) side, the Los Angeles Sparks, to take up the role with the MLS team.

She released a statement which read: “I’ve learned a lot from my time with the WNBA, especially the Los Angeles Sparks organisation.

“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.”

Johnson boasts an impressive CV, having previously worked with the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Los Angeles Clippers, and the Washington Mystics and Detroit Shock of the WNBA.

Whilst overseeing the Los Angeles Sparks, the WNBA franchise saw a 50% increase in ticketing revenue between 2014 and 2017.

DC United’s Co-Chairman and Chief Executive, Jason Levien, said: “After conducting a thorough search process, we are confident that Danita Johnson is the right person to lead our business and help take our 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. We are thrilled that she has agreed to join us at this critical moment in DC United’s trajectory.”

Insider Insight: DC United’s appointment of Danita Johnson is a significant leap forward for the BLM movement, empowering women in sport and paving the way for other franchises and leagues to follow suit.

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