St. Louis City Treasurer Adam Layne ’07 Shares Lessons He’s Learned

On November 29, Roxbury Latin welcomed back Adam Layne, Class of 2007, who delivered a personal and inspiring Hall to students and faculty in Rousmaniere. Adam serves today as the Treasurer of the City of St. Louis. He began his talk addressing the boys as his “fellow RL brothers,” and offering insight into what he does and what he’s learned along the way.

Adam described his North Star as “always being where I am needed most.” He began his career with Teach for America, through which he taught math in a public high school in the city he now serves. In this role, he was reminded of the value of education—a value his mother had long instilled in him—and creating opportunity in places where it’s needed. From there, Adam began consulting on educational matters and ultimately entered politics by serving on the Public School Board of Education in St. Louis in 2019. (He was elected on his second run, after his first unsuccessful campaign, underscoring for RL boys the value of persistence and the need to learn from—and then move on from—failure.) Once on the board, Adam quickly learned that the role was less about education and more about politics. Regardless, he strove to develop and nurture programs of significant impact in the sometimes slow-moving government realm. It was during his time on the Board of Education that Adam was appointed to his next job, as Deputy Chief of Staff in the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office in March 2020—mere days before the pandemic shutdown. He loved the role, and he aligned himself with St. Louis’s future mayor. He was eventually appointed City Treasurer in 2021: “It’s hard work, but I love every day, because I love making people’s lives better,” Adam said.

After walking the boys through his career path—winding, and emerging as he “said yes” to unexpected opportunities that came his way—Adam shifted to reflect on his experience at Roxbury Latin. He thanked his mother, who was in attendance, for the sacrifices she made to send him to RL. He then highlighted five experiences that stood out to him during his time here:

“My First Day”
On Adam’s first day at Roxbury Latin, he showed up to school wearing a jacket and tie, quickly realizing it was overkill for the RL dress code. He also arrived with a blank check to buy his books. While waiting in line to pick up his textbooks, he worried about the cost—not only of the books, but also of an RL education. After tallying up the price of the books, an administrator told him simply, “It’s covered.” At that moment, Adam knew he was also “covered” in the care he would receive here, and that RL was likely the right place for him.

“That’s Gay”
As a student, Adam remembered a Hall speaker who addressed the use of toxic language and bigoted terms. As the school day continued, teachers in every class led intentional and constructive conversations about the topic, to hear what the students thought, and to help them understand the damage language can impart—ultimately in the aim of helping the boys become good men. For Adam, this Hall and his teachers’ care demonstrated how to be an effective and thoughtful educator—knowing when to set the syllabus aside to focus on other important topics.

“Dropped Kick-off vs. Belmont Hill”
Adam shared that he made many mistakes at RL. One that stood out for him happened on the football field: As a student-athlete, Adam dropped an opening kick versus the school’s rival in a big game. He was devastated, but quickly realized it was an opportunity for growth. At Roxbury Latin, his coaches, teachers, and friends helped Adam to reflect and improve after seemingly devastating mishaps.

“Could’ve Been a New England Champion”
When he was cut from the basketball team, Adam pursued wrestling during his RL journey. He could have treated the sport as a secondary part of his school experience, but he learned through his time on the team to present his best self and “show up fully” in everything he did. This lesson has helped him discover and pursue a variety of unexpected opportunities throughout his career.

“Simple Pat On the Cheek from Rev. Jarvis”
Throughout every school day, the adults at school and Adam’s RL brothers prepared him for the world through gestures of support and care, both large and small.

The Hall concluded with several questions from the students. In his answers, Adam expressed that his proudest moment as Treasurer was navigating COVID-19 in an equitable way for the City of St. Louis. He also shared that even though he did not see himself ever going into politics as a high school student, he refused to say no to any opportunity that would allow him to serve others in need.