Engelbert became the first female CEO of any Big Four firm when she took the role at Deloitte US in 2015.
At the WNBA, she will replace previous president Lisa Borders, who stepped down in October to become chief executive of the Time’s Up movement.
The previous four heads of the WNBA had been known as president, but Engelbert will take the title commissioner.
“With Cathy’s hiring, we wanted to signal to the broadest possible audience that the WNBA is a major league and that she has the same status as the heads of other US-based sports leagues,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained.
“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”, he added.
The WNBA is the most successful professional women’s league in US history, and Engelbert will lead it into its 23rd season.
In a press conference for the WNBA, Engelbert said that she has been a basketball fan since she was four. She captained the team at Lehigh University, under coach Muffet McGraw.
"I can think of no better place to take the next level of my career than at the WNBA," Engelbert said. She added that she was, "Looking forward to connecting with all of the players and stakeholders that surround women's basketball and women's sports, again, leveraging my skills and working with them to continue to really increase the power of this amazing brand with these world class athletes and drive a better fan and player experience and drive revenue."
Engelbert will be replaced by Joseph Ucuzoglu as CEO of Deloitte US.