Black women are rising up the ranks in the realm of sports and making history in the process. According to the Washington Post, Danita Johnson has been appointed to serve as the president of business operations for the soccer team D.C. United; making her the first Black president in MLS’ 28-year history.
Johnson has served in several leadership roles across different sports leagues. She spent nearly two decades leading departments for professional basketball teams that include the Fayetteville Patriots, Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Clippers and most recently the Los Angeles Sparks where she served as President and Chief Operating Officer for two years. During her tenure with the Sparks, she led several impactful initiatives including a community busing program that transported individuals from underserved communities to Sparks games and the #WeAreWomen campaign which significantly increased attendance.
Johnson—a North Carolina native and graduate of the Cullowhee-based Western Carolina University—says the culmination of her experiences in sports management has given her a solid foundation to help advance franchises. “When you help start a team you learn every part of the business; ticket sales, marketing, PR, community relations. Those experiences set me up for my career in this business,” she said in an interview with VoyageLA. In her new role, Johnson will spearhead business operations for D.C. United’s second-division team Loudoun United, diversify the franchise, organize events at Audi Field, develop strategies to evolve fan engagement and secure sponsorships. She succeeds Tom Hunt.
News about Johnson’s milestone comes after Bianca Smith was recently hired as a minor league coach for the Red Sox; making her the first Black woman coach in the MLB’s 151-year history.