Richie replaces Donna Orender, who resigned in December after nearly five years as WNBA president. Richie formally takes over at the WNBA May 16.
"Laurel combines extraordinary marketing and brand management skills, with a tremendous enthusiasm to help evolve young women into leaders," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in as statement.
"She joins the WNBA at such an exciting time in its history and we know her expertise will be key to continuing the growth and success of the league."
Richie was the chief marketing officer at the Girl Scouts and previously worked with advertising agencies.
"The WNBA is comprised of the best female basketball players in the world and I'm looking forward to working with these talented women as they strive to achieve their professional goals both on and off the court," Richie said.
"I am fortunate to have worked with an organization as inspiring as Girl Scouts and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon the successes of the WNBA and help grow this league into a world-class business."