The WNBA, which has operated without a commissioner since October, appointed Cathy Engelbert, a long-time executive at the consulting firm Deloitte to lead the league, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Wednesday.
“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth,” Silver said in a statement issued by the league. “The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.”
Silver had promised to have a commissioner in place before the WNBA regular season begins May 23.
However, Englebert officially takes over July 17 once her four-year term concludes with Deloitte, a one of the largest professional services organizations in the U.S.
“It is an absolute privilege to be joining the WNBA at such an exciting and important time in its history,” said Engelbert. “I see tremendous opportunity to bolster visibility for the sport of women’s basketball, empower the players, and enhance fan engagement.
“I look forward to using my business expertise and passion for basketball to promote women in the game and beyond, and to working with the teams and world-class athletes to help grow this league into a thriving business.”
Engelbert replaces Lisa Borders, who left the league last October after serving as WNBA president for two years. Borders was preceded by Laurel Richie (2011-15), Donna Orender (2005-2010) and Val Ackerman (1996-2005).
As the WNBA enters its 23rd season, Engelbert steps in at a pivotal time as the league heads into labor negotiations after the season with its players who opted out of the collective bargaining agreement last year.