I’d like to introduce you to the Network Relations team here at the Help Me Grow (HMG) National Center! You might have met me, Sarah Zucker, at some point over the last seven years and maybe in my former capacity here providing technical assistance to new, onboarding states and communities joining the National Affiliate Network. In doing that work, I became more and more interested in thinking about the various ways HMG National can support affiliates in generating impact. Over the years, I found myself increasingly passionate about the value of the Network itself, the vast knowledge and experiential capital held by each member of the HMG community, and how supportive, sharing relationships seemed to uniquely characterize the experience of being an affiliate.

The HMG National Center is taking a new shape in order to further advance the goals and priorities of the HMG Affiliate Network and our collective strategic growth.

One of our strategies: Further investing in our ongoing commitment to “Network Relations”.

My teammate Morgan Reiss is newer to HMG National and a total dynamo. Her role is interesting, in that it straddles both the Network Relations branch and the Policy & Community Change branch of the National Center. She is a true systems-thinker, always seeking to bridge gaps, reduce barriers, facilitate connections, and streamline processes for greater cross-sector collaboration. You may have met her if you’ve attended either Building Connections series (Outreach Coordinator Network or State Lead Network), or seen emails she’s built if you keep up to date with our HMG News or News From the Field newsletters.

Together, we represent the HMG Network Relations team.

What is HMG National Network Relations?

HMG Network Relations are all the ways in which the National Center works with and for our affiliates. It’s the relationships between affiliates and National that provide support to your work, it’s the connections between and across different affiliates that spark ideas, it’s the preservation of a HMG community where people feel like they belong, their work is valued, and it just feels good to be a part of.

We have always known that when affiliates are really engaged, they get the most out of what HMG has to offer – and that’s our greatest goal.

Network Relations is woven into everything we do here at HMG National, and always has been. After all, the National Affiliate Network is really the lifeblood of HMG, so everything National does must be in cooperation with and in service to our Network. We have always recognized that one of the top (if not the top) value of the HMG National Center is in bringing folks together, creating spaces and opportunities to make connections, share ideas and resources, and advance the togetherness that accelerates our collective impact. We can disseminate hundreds of resources, offer a ton of opportunities, sit at the most influential tables, but if we don’t do all of that in accordance with affiliate values, needs, and preferences, we’re not going to achieve that full potential that drives us all. 

So while we’ve recognized the critical importance of our Affiliate Network since day one, now we’re putting a name on this kind of work – Network Relations – and we’re making a deep investment in it.

Our Network Relations Theory

We have developed a working theory on factors that contribute to the type of engagement in HMG that is so powerful it helps a state or community achieve its goals. In order to foster this fruitful kind of engagement for affiliates, we believe that the HMG National Center must create and maintain the conditions for:

    • Easy access to valuable resources;
    • Productive connections to HMG National and other affiliates;
    • An inclusive sense of belonging within the HMG community; and
Co-ownership over the direction of HMG, both at the community, state, and national-levels.

Help Us Guide the Path Forward for HMG Network Relations

To check our assumptions, get a baseline sense of affiliate feelings of engagement, and learn what affiliates want and expect from HMG National Network Relations, we have engaged Hopeward Consulting. They were an obvious partner for this work, being that Hopeward provides support for situational assessment, implementation planning, and network collaboration. Not to mention that the shop is run by two of the original state leads from HMG Kansas, Danielle Brower and Rebecca Gillam!

The hope – I promise that pun was not intended – is that it’s easy to talk to Hopeward about your experiences with HMG National and how you want to be engaged, both because they will offer a confidential opportunity to be candid in your thoughts (the National Center will only be receiving aggregated information), and because they have lived affiliate experience themselves. They have the context, they get the Model, and they can see where you’re coming from.

Hopeward is offering three different ways to participate and make your voice heard on what you want most from HMG Network Relations. And we would love to have input from each and every system across the Network. No limit on how many folks from a given system can participate, we want to hear from everyone.

Make Your Voice Heard

Sign up for a 30-minute one-on-one call.

      • Grab a spot on the calendar

Take a 10-minute survey.
There’s a survey for state-level leads and a survey for those leading HMG at the local-level – choose the right one for you:

      • State Leads Survey
      • Local Leads Survey

Drop into a listening session.
There are listening sessions for state leads and listening sessions for those leading HMG at the local-level – choose the right one for you:

      • State Leads of Single-System States option 1 – June 15
      • State Leads of Single-System States option 2 – June 19
      • State Leads of Single-System States option 3 – June 21
      • Local Leads in Multi-System States option 1 – June 13
      • Local Leads in Multi-System States option 2 – June 23

*The listening session date for state leads of multi-system states is being determined by Doodle poll sent by Danielle Brower from Hopeward.

Get to Know the New HMG National Center

In addition to these input opportunities, we will be holding a roundtable discussion at the end of July to meet the National Center branch leads. Open to the full HMG Network, we invite you to come and share in a friendly setting with other affiliates from across the country. Here we will offer thoughts on National Center direction and hear from you regarding the activities and priorities we can take with our new capacity that will make the greatest impact for you and your work.

Following the roundtable, each branch will hold a listening session where you can drop in and spend some more time chatting with specific branch leads and other affiliates who want to be part of that focus area’s conversation. It could be a nice way to both make your thoughts heard and meet some new folks from another HMG state who have a similar set of interests or pursuits.

See what I did there? Viewing the listening sessions as potential opportunities for making new, productive, valuable connected relationships with individuals who you might not otherwise meet if not for HMG? That’s Network Relations!

The HMG National Center will always be committed to the Affiliate Network, and we look forward to co-creating a path towards powerful engagement that helps you get the most out of being a HMG affiliate.

Join the full HMG National Center team for our Growing Together Roundtable Discussion on July 26

      • Register Now

Join the Growing Together listening session series to dive deeper into the conversation with each branch:

      • Network Relations (August 8, 2-3pm ET)
      • Impact & Network Performance (August 16, 2-3pm ET)
      • Implementation & System-Building (August 22, 2-3pm ET)
      • Policy & Community Change (August 29, 2-3pm ET)


Sarah Zucker is the Communications & Network Relations Manager at the Help Me Grow National Center.





Morgan Reiss is the Policy & Communications Program Specialist at the Help Me Grow National Center.