Megan Brennan, the 74th Postmaster General (PMG) of the United States and the first woman to serve in that position, retires today. Americans owe her a big thank you. Here are some of the reasons why.
When Megan Brennan became PMG in February 2015, the Postal Service was already facing some of the greatest challenges in its 245-year history. The internet was and is continuing to knock mail volume to significantly lower levels. During most of her tenure as PMG and Chief Executive Officer, the Board of Governors – the equivalent of a corporation’s Board of Directors – did not have a quorum.
This, along with a lack of any serious Congressional postal reform legislation, significantly constrained what she could do and led to mounting challenges. It also deprived her of advice and counsel from Board members, which is essential for any chief executive.
As PMG, Megan Brennan was also in the political arena from Day 1 on the job. She regularly dealt with strident and vigorous demands from Members of Congress, the Administration, labor unions, the mailing industry, and many others, including the Lexington Institute.
She has consistently addressed these matters with grace and poise and won widespread respect. For example, Dr. Peter Navarro, Director of The White House’s Office and Trade Manufacturing Policy, commended her “strong leadership” which was essential in overhauling the worldwide system of international package pricing, a formidable and important accomplishment as the previous system led to job losses and other economic costs in the United States. Dr. Navarro called Megan Brennan “one of my favorite people in this town.”
Megan Brennan announced her retirement on October 16, to be effective January 31. It was soon clear she would not be easy to replace.
The search for a new PMG is a challenging and arduous process. If the Postal Service were a business, it would be one of the 40 or so largest companies in the United States. The PMG must also deal with many politicians, given that the Postal Service serves all Americans and is part of the federal government.
As the Postal Service discussed in a May 6 news release, the extensive nationwide search for a new PMG was done with the help of two outside consulting firms and the Board of Governors “reviewed the records of more than two hundred candidates for the position before narrowing the list to more than fifty candidates to undergo substantial vetting.”
With the onset of the pandemic and its historic logistics challenges, Megan Brennan’s calm demeanor and experience have been critical to ensure that the Postal Service has continued to function relatively smoothly. Mail and packages have continued to be delivered. Under her leadership, the Postal Service has performed its mission to bind the nation together, despite the formidable challenges.
The Board of Governors’ strong respect for Megan Brennan was also obvious on a May 8 public conference call discussing numerous recent developments at the Postal Service. These accomplished individuals all made clear how essential her service has been, especially through the pandemic.
Megan Brennan began her 34-year career in the Postal Service as a letter carrier in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up through hard work and grit, serving as the Postal Service’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President before becoming PMG. Her story is one of success and it should be shared with young women especially.
The best wishes, and a profound thank you, to Megan Brennan as she enters retirement.
About the Author: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
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