RETURN TO SENDER

The first woman to be the US postmaster general got her start delivering mail 30 years ago

Megan Brennan is the head of the largest postal organization in the world. She is also the first woman to hold the position, and one of the highest paid US government officials.

She started her job as the 74th Postmaster General, one of the oldest jobs in government (it was created before the Declaration of Independence), in February 2015, after holding several top positions in the agency.

But before she reached the highest echelons of the organization, Brennan got to know the US postal system inside-out, starting with a year-long assignment as a humble letter carrier in 1986 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

By choosing a career in the postal service after college she continued a family tradition: her father worked for USPS for four decades, and two of her brothers became letter carriers as well.

Brennan earned her MBA at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she told the Wall Street Journal that she would like the postal service to operate like a company in the private sector. She is counting on mail advertising, which she says is still the most direct way to get to a consumer.

The USPS, which employs 600,000 people and loses billions of dollars every year, is in dire need of a new direction. Less people send old-fashioned snail mail, and the competition in the package business is fierce. The agency’s main money-making component, first-class mail, is rapidly shrinking. Congress also forced the USPS to pay $5.5 billion each year for future retirement benefits, putting immense financial pressure on the agency. The postal service does not get any tax dollars, but is controlled by Congress.

Although she kicked off her tough first year in office battling Congress, her predecessor said of her when she was named to office that he thinks she will end up being “the greatest postmaster general ever.”

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