Adam Finlayson

Connecting and empowering people to build the future through community and technology


I am an independent programmer based outside Chicago in the United States. My expertise is in software development operations and serverless cloud architectures.

I spent 2001-2019 in technology at Northwestern University, specifically focused on web infrastructure and application development. I joined financial technology startup CardX in 2019 where I built the technology stack, team, and flagship products leading to their acquisition by Stax Payments in 2021. Currently I provide private research and development which allows me to make my own schedule.


I am particularly enthusiastic about logging, monitoring, and tight feedback loops with front-line support. My technology stack looks like:

  • AWS, exclusively using Lambda for compute and similar on-demand services wherever practical (SQS, DynamoDB)
  • NodeJS on the backend, VueJS on the frontend
  • Observability and incident response through Datadog and Opsgenie

Choices in these categories may vary.

I like the open communication and iterative parts of Agile. I also think Agile rituals provide time together to establish and reinforce culture. There is no substitute for time humans spend together. The rest I can take or leave based on the preferences of the team.


I moved to Evanston in 2001. Evanston is a hotbed of usually progressive, always well-meaning activists and I am no exception. I co-founded the Grandmother Park Initiative, a quarter-million dollar campaign to build a new park in 2014. I have a lot of experience in local elections and served as president of the Democratic Party of Evanston. I get around by bike and public transit so I want urban planning that improves non-car accessibility and safety. Like most of Evanston, I like my kool-aide from the Radical Left but I am a compromiser at heart and believe local government has to be pragmatic.

Evanston is a unique microcosm with a colorful history. It is part of the North Shore bordering both Chicago and Lake Michigan. That means it simultaneously has neighborhoods that extend Rogers Park, functioning like inner-city Chicago, but also multi-million dollar lake front estates. It creates dynamics where one part of town wants brighter street lamps for safety at night, the other part is concerned about light pollution, and responsible government advocates only want one lamppost vendor.


I like to cook. I describe my cooking as "simple food done well," drawing a lot from the American south and southwest into Latin America. During block party I usually barbecue ribs or a brisket, at home it is all-day bean soups and quick tacos. I listen to podcasts about current events and technology. My musical preferences are classic rock, hip hop, and recommendations from Flow State. I know my way around both a sewing machine and a Minecraft server. I believe that relative to twelve, ten is grossly overrated.


I was born in Dearborn, Michigan, a border suburb of Detroit, and lived there until I was 13. I then moved to the north side of Chicago (Ravenswood / Lincoln Square) and graduated from Amundsen High School. After that I attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa where I studied mathematics and computer science.


This site was made using Gridsome, Vue.js, Tailwind, and Netlify. It is available on GitHub.

September 2023 (v11.0.4)