The Washington Spirit have expanded their ownership group, with Virginia-based CEO Y. Michele Kang joining Steve Baldwin and Bill Lynch as a stakeholder in the NWSL club. Kang, the founder of healthcare IT provider Cognosante, is the first woman to own a stake in the Spirit, and among the first owners of Asian descent in the NWSL.
When reached by Black and Red United, the Spirit said that Kang and Baldwin are both equity partners in the club’s ownership structure, and that Baldwin’s role as managing partner means he will retain decision-making authority. The Spirit also said that the ownership change has had no impact on their planned moves into space at Audi Field and to relocate training to the as-yet-unfinished D.C. United training facility in Loudoun County.
“When I met the team after the World Cup, I knew I wanted to help lead this club,” said Kang in a team press release. “I believe it is essential for successful women to take the lead in advancing other women, and I look forward to doing so for the women of the Washington Spirit. We are going to win on the field and off the field and I’m delighted to join our players, staff and my ownership partners in the pursuit of excellence.”
“I’m delighted to welcome Michele into our organization. She is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in our area,” said Baldwin via that same press release. “Since founding Cognosante in 2008, she has built the leading healthcare-focused information technology firm in the United States. Michele is a brilliant, visionary executive and brings her incredible talent and expertise to our club. Tom Daschle introduced us following the 2019 World Cup and we immediately started working together to make this happen. Michele will make a tremendous impact for our players and our community and I could not be happier to have her join our club.”
Kang has apparently been considering a move to join the Spirit’s existing ownership structure for some time. According to a statement from Spirit co-captain Andi Sullivan, Baldwin set up a dinner meeting between her, Kang, and Aubrey Bledsoe that left a positive impression. “[Kang] shared her incredible personal story with us as well as her passion to develop and advance women leaders in business and the community. We see Michele joining us as the next step in our evolution to being the best club in the world, and my teammates and I are excited about the opportunity to work with her. She is inspiring.”