Donahoe Retires; Brennan Tapped as First Woman Postmaster General

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, the postal clerk from Pittsburgh who rose to head the U.S. Postal Service, has announced that he will step away from the job on February 1, 2015. In a historic move, the Postal Service Board of Governors today named current COO Megan J. Brennan as his successor to become the 74th person and first woman to hold the job.

The announcement was made at a public meeting of the board this morning by board chairman Mickey Barnett, who described Brennan as the ideal choice. “Megan has demonstrated outstanding vision, leadership, and executive ability in her role as chief operating officer, and has been extraordinarily successful in managing the operations of the Postal Service,” said Barnett. “She is highly regarded throughout the Postal Service and among the broader community of our major customers and business partners–and rightly so.”

In a press call on fiscal 2014 earnings this morning, the Postmaster General said his decision to leave at this problem-filled juncture for the Post Office was based in pure practicality. “You always try to figure out when the right time to go is. What I saw was that we…need to have somebody that can get behind [new initiatives] and make sure everything works,” Donahoe said. “I can’t be here for four or five more years to see them through. We have labor negotiations starting on February 20th. It would be unfair to labor and unfair to the Postal Service to have a short-timer on it an hand it off to somebody else. We need somebody with a longer runway. That’s exactly what played into my decision.”

Mailers appear eager to work with the PMG-designee. “Megan is a great choice,” said Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association. “Under her reign, catalogs have seen tremendous service improvements. And with a new Congress, this is a good time to pass the baton. One would hope a new postmaster general will help change the dynamic and allow for a new postal law to take root.”

Brennan is responsible for the day-to-day operations of an agency with 491,000 employees and more than 31,000 facilities, monitoring mail processing, transportation, delivery, and retail operations.

In making tough decisions at the Post Office as it fights for its survival, Donahoe maintained the respect of big mailers, politicians, and postal workers alike. He set a five-year plan for modernization of the Postal Service that would have it engage in more digital tools and shipping options. Wanting the regulated government agency to be able to operate more like a free market enterprise, he wants the Postal Service and Board to reclaim the right to set its own rates, an issue that sets him apart from direct mailers who are fighting to shed a 4.3% exigent increase imposed on them last year.

Brennan (left), a 28-year Postal Service veteran, will take over from Donahoe with many questions to be settled by legislators who will be considering new postal reform in the coming lame duck session of Congress.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to take on this role at such an exciting time for the organization,” said Brennan in a statement. “The Postal Service plays a vital role in America’s society and economy and I’m looking forward to strengthening that role and meeting the demands of a rapidly evolving marketplace in the years ahead.”

Brennan joined the Postal Service as a letter carrier in Lancaster, PA, and began her management career as a delivery and collection supervisor. She rose to become VP of Eastern Area Operations before being named COO in 2010. She is a graduate of Immaculata College and holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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