Staff Spotlight: Madeline Morris

Program Coordinator


Madeline, better known as Maddy, has been an advocate for authentic cultural exchange for as long as she can remember. Her travels abroad at an early age encouraged her to develop a career past the borders of her home state and country, New York, U.S. Maddy currently works as the Program Coordinator for Puentes Abroad, where she focuses on programs, communications, and partnership outreach. Previously, she worked as an English Teacher in Chiang Kham, Thailand and Madrid, Spain. Following those stints, she brought her passion for education equity to Ashinaga Uganda, a Japanese non-profit organization. Maddy graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a BS in Psychology and a Spanish minor. In her spare time, you can find her planning trips and treks to all corners of the world, attending live music events, and snapping photos of all things food.

What is your favorite travel memory?

This is such a tough question, because there are just too many to choose from. But, if I have to pick one, it would be the solo motorbike trip I did in central Laos a few years ago. I was fairly comfortable using a motorbike at this point, but definitely apprehensive about doing a 4-day loop all by myself. I decided to trust in the handwritten maps I was given at the bike rental shop, which pointed out various sites to see, activities to do, and recommended guesthouses to stay in along the way, and I took to the open road. With no cell service in reach, I drove through the most picturesque scenery you could imagine (think: limestone cliffs, vast green fields with water buffalo, tiny towns with smiling children). I crossed my fingers that there would be a store (think: table on the side of the road) with water bottles of gasoline just as I was nearing empty. On my second night, I met and bonded with fellow travelers and Laotian natives through an incredible homestay, where I was taken in as part of the family, bathing in the lake with my new sisters, playing with the neighbor's newborn baby, and being given special Laotian bracelets through a beautiful leaving ceremony. The trip filled me with an overwhelming feeling of freedom and bliss.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Since working at Puentes, I believe I have evolved for the better. I have the pleasure of working with two incredibly strong and innovative colleagues who push me to be open-minded, forward-thinking, and productive. I also experienced the unique situation of Puentes having to pivot rapidly to a fully remote program due to COVID-19, which was an incredibly rewarding experience that I think has made our team and our company stronger than ever.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

One of the best stories I've heard from a student is that their experience with Puentes was the tipping point in deciding to work and live in another country. Given my background, I am a massive advocate of stepping outside of your "normal life" and immersing yourself in a new culture, lifestyle, language. Knowing that after participating in Puentes, students are choosing to redirect their careers and lifestyles in this way brings me such joy it is hard to put into words.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

All of them?! I absolutely would love to participate in an internship with an Argentine non-profit or company - maybe dipping my toes into an industry that I had never thought about working in previously (perhaps politics or health). I'd also love to join any one of our short immersion programs. We have robust offerings and tailor the programs to meet our partners' goals and interests, but I'd definitely want to go on our Sustainability & Ecotourism program, because I think Argentina and Uruguay are two of the world's leading locations for that specific theme.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Puentes is unique because we are 100% bespoke. We take the time to get to know our partners, our internship sites, and, of course, our program participants. We are there every step of the way - whether it be pre-program training and preparation, internship oversight meetings, one-on-one coaching sessions, or more general support - to ensure that we meet, and hopefully exceed, everyones' expectations.

I was especially proud of the Puentes team when we successfully organized a panel of incredibly inspirational speakers to engage in a virtual session with our remote program participants on Global Work Trends. It was incredibly inspiring, and I felt it encapsulated the essence of what our work is all about - shaping and supporting young individuals to bring international perspectives into their spheres of influence and work.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think you know that a company is successful when employees can wake up and genuinely feel excited to start the day's tasks. Having impeccable communication, well thought-out organizational tactics, and high levels of trust, Puentes is not just a successful company, but a safe and encouraging space for continued learning and growth - for employees, partners, and participants alike.