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Connie Armstrong
Connie Armstrong

The POWER 30: Connie Armstrong

Harris St. Paul Inc

Connie Armstrong is associate general counsel at Harris St. Paul Inc. and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where she serves as an emergency preparedness liaison officer providing defense support to civil authorities primarily through FEMA mission assignments. Last December, she was called to South Dakota to assist FEMA with providing generators for heat in response to severe winter storms and a presidential declaration of a major disaster for the state of South Dakota.

Harris is a leading national mechanical contractor specializing in design and engineering, construction, building automation, service, manufacturing, conveyors and end-to-end building systems. Since opening its doors in 1948 in St. Paul, it has grown to 15 regional offices and more than 2,000 employees. Harris works for the largest general contractors and federal and state governments.

Military service and construction have been a constant in Armstrong’s life for more than 20 years. Armstrong was stationed in Alaska and became a contracting officer, awarding and administering federal construction projects for the Air National Guard. She combined her military duties with school, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees, and returned to her home state of Minnesota — she’s from the Duluth area — in 2003 to attend William Mitchell College of Law.

Armstrong says her goal from the start was a career in construction law. She co-founded the school’s Construction Law Group and, after graduating in 2006, worked in law firms where she mainly handled construction law before moving to an in-house position with a local general contractor in 2016. She moved to Harris last year, is the vice chair of the MSBA Construction Law Section Council and is active in the legal community with the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota and supporting women business owners through the Association of Women Contractors.

Armstrong describes her work as broad-based, involving significant advising, training, education, contract review and risk management. “Litigation is not a big part of what I do,” she says; it can affect important relationships with the company and clients. “You want to rely on the relationships you have,” she said.