Danita Johnson, President of Business Operations, D.C. United
D.C. United Danita Johnson, President of Business Operations Bio — Danita Johnson is a seasoned sports and entertainment executive and member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2023. Over her 17-year career, Johnson has successfully launched a professional franchise, led award-winning teams, delivered record-breaking sales for multiple organizations, and created additional sustainable revenue streams through a unique approach to strategic partnerships and brand development.
Currently, Johnson serves as the President of Business Operations for Major League Soccer’s most decorated club, D.C. United, a role she has held since January 2021. Notably, she is the first Black President of an MLS Club and only the third woman in league history to serve in this role. In her first two full seasons leading the Black-and-Red, Johnson has shepherded a 31% increase in ticket sales, 27% increase in concessions sales, 55% increase in apparel sales, and 27% growth in partnership and sponsorship revenue. Johnson pioneered a landmark local broadcast deal which saw D.C. United become the only team in the league to air all club matches on television and radio in both English and Spanish, as well as provide streaming at no cost for fans within the local market.
Under her leadership, the club has established a sustainable Audi Field events business, which has seen the Washington Spirit (NWSL), DC Defenders (XFL), and the Truth and Service Classic – a home football game for Howard University – become full tenants and staple events in the 20,000-seat downtown DC stadium. Johnson is also responsible for the highest-grossing single match ticket sales and revenue event in club history when D.C. United hosted FC Bayern Munich.
Additionally, under her leadership, the club have achieved two back-to-back record-breaking jersey sales highlighted by the most popular kit in club history – The Cherry Blossom Kit – which saw an increase of nearly 500% in previous years.
Her focus on delivering Audi Field as a premier destination for sports in the United States has also led to the venue hosting the National Women’s Soccer League Championship in 2022, which saw record attendance, and the hosting rights for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game where the league’s best played English Premier League powerhouse, Arsenal FC. In July of 2022, United hosted European giant, FC Bayern Munich, becoming the highest-grossing event in Audi Field history.
Johnson’s mission for D.C. United is clear, Unite Sport. Build Community. Win Championships. Inspired by this, the club has re-introduced the D.C. United Foundation and re-established the club’s community relations department. Since 2022, D.C. United and the club’s foundation have positively impacted the lives of more than 125,000 individuals and volunteered more than 2,700 hours.
Prior to joining D.C. United, Johnson had 15 years of experience in the sports industry, including several roles in the WNBA, NBA, and NBA G League, specializing in revenue generation, community programs, and digital media and marketing.
During her time with the Los Angeles Sparks, Johnson led the organization to a league-best in corporate sponsorship dollars earned and launched the annual #WeAreWomen campaign, which drew a historic attendance of 19,000 to Staples Center for a WNBA game. Additionally, under her leadership, the organization saw a 50% increase in ticket sales from 2014-2017 and led the WNBA in attendance in 2017 and 2019, including a 17.8% increase in fans per game in the 2017 season.
Before her time in Los Angeles, Johnson developed and led the Ticket Sales and Service department for the Washington Mystics while with Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Johnson also boasts NBA experience with the Los Angeles Clippers and played a pivotal role in launching a professional basketball franchise, the Bakersfield Jam.
A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and a graduate of Western Carolina University, Johnson sits on the board of DC SCORES, Destination DC, the Share Winter Foundation, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and previously served as a WISE Within Mentor.