Amid complex financial challenges facing the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced today he will retire in February.

Donahoe was appointed Postmaster General in October 2010. He will be succeeded by the agency’s chief operating officer, Megan J. Brennan, who will become the first female Postmaster General.

“Pat was the calm in the financial storm. He ignored the naysayers and went forward with his team and built a comprehensive plan for the future of the organization, made tough decisions, and executed against those decisions,” Mickey D. Barnett, chairman of the agency’s Board of Governors, said in a statement announcing Donahoe’s retirement. “That’s a testament to the great team he built and his own personal leadership.”

Donahoe, a native of Pittsburg, Penn., served with the agency for 39 years. He began his career as a clerk in Pittsburg, while attending the University of Pittsburg and majoring in economics. He later graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Donahoe oversaw many challenges including a sharp workforce reduction. The USPS has approximately 220,000 fewer employees than it did in 2004. The agency also took several steps to embrace technology and digital media during his tenure.

“The organization has a lot of momentum right now, and we’re doing a lot to innovate and improve the way we serve the public and our customers,” Donahoe said in a statement. “The nature of delivery is changing dramatically and the postal service will continue to be an important part of those changes.”

However, the USPS has yet to overcome mounting financial challenges and a sea of red ink. For its fiscal year ending in September 30, the USPS reported a positive revenue increase of $569 million, but a total loss of $5.5 billion.

This comes after years of multibillion dollar loses as the agency tries to compete in a much more highly competitive mailing and shipping industry today than when the USPS had near total market control throughout much of the early to mid-20th century. FedEx, UPS, and other carriers have increasingly captured market share.

The shift from traditional means of communication, letters, to technology-based means of communication, emails and social media, has also hurt the agency as it struggles to reinvent itself and become a highly technological-driven shipping and mailing company that is positioned to handle the speed and needs of the 21st-century global economy.

Donahoe’s bio is posted on the agency’s website.

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