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Danita Johnson named first Black president in MLS history

Los Angeles Sparks chief to join DC United in January.

23 December 2020 Michael Long

Getty Images

DC United have appointed Danita Johnson as their new president of business operations in a move that makes her the first Black president of a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.

Johnson will join the club in January from the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), where she held the role of president and chief operating officer.

“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,” said Jason Levien, DC United’s co-chairman and chief executive.

“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.”

Johnson, who becomes only the third woman to hold the role of president in the history of MLS, is credited with having instigated an impressive uptick in commercial performance at the Sparks, where she oversaw a ticket sales increase of 50 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

Prior to the Sparks, she held positions at the WNBA's Washington Mystics and Detroit Shock, as well as the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“I’ve learned a lot from my time with the WNBA, especially the Los Angeles Sparks organisation,” 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.”

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