Networking 101: How to Build Your Support System

Leaders Forum 2022 Part 2

Does networking trigger your anxiety? For first generation folks, networking is a necessary part of the job, and yet many of us very rarely have access to resources and support systems that make networking easier. For those of us already on the margins--Black, Non Black POC, queer, and non binary folks--how can we build professional connections while still staying true to our identities?

This fireside chat between Niki and Chris will teach you how to find and build your community, develop lasting connections and tell your story with authenticity, intentionality, and heart.




Meet Your Activists


Niki Khoshzamir is the Founder and CEO of PracticePro and leads all business and legal aspects of the company including corporate governance, IP portfolio, product development, and strategic partnerships. Niki speaks at law firms and companies nationwide on a variety of skills topics including new associate skills, professional branding, networking, project management, and diversity as a business asset. She also consults with law firms to strengthen training and diversity programs, including helping diverse and first-generation associates to succeed as attorneys.

Prior to founding PracticePro, Niki was an attorney for seven years at the global firms of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, LLP, and Kirkland and Ellis, LLP. She focused her practice on intellectual property litigation, complex commercial disputes, and trade sanctions compliance. Niki successfully represented companies and individuals in federal and state courts, and in all stages of litigation including trial. From 2011 to 2017, Niki was a Lecturer at Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law where she created and taught a skills course titled The Junior Litigation Associate.

Niki currently serves on the national advisory board of the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), and is the former president of the Northern California Chapter, which she founded in 2006 and grew to one of the largest and most active chapters of the organization. She also serves on the Leadership Council of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and judges the Excellence in Writing Competition of the Continuing Bar Education.

Niki received her B.S. in Biology, summa cum laude, from Texas Southern University, and a J.D. and Certificate in Law and Technology from Berkeley Law. Prior to her legal career, she was a research assistant at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center. Niki grew up in Tehran, London, and Vienna and immigrated to the United States on her own at 19 to attend college. She credits her passion for diversity and inclusion to her classmates and teachers at the American International High School in Vienna.


Christopher Punongbayan is the Executive Director of ChangeLawyers, a statewide foundation whose mission is to build a better justice system for all Californians.

Over the last twenty years, Chris has gained deep experience in social justice issues. He profoundly believes in giving voice to the unheard, breaking down barriers, and creating strategic alliances to advance equity. Prior to joining the ChangeLawyers℠, Chris was the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and held positions at Northern California Grantmakers, Positive Resource Center, and Filipino Advocates for Justice.

Currently, Chris serves on the California Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs, KQED's Community Advisory Panel, and is the Treasurer of the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Action Fund. A native of Massachusetts and the son of immigrants from the Philippines, Chris graduated cum laude from Brown University with a degree in Asian American Studies and UCLA School of Law where he completed the Critical Race Studies concentration and the Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.

In 2003, Chris received a scholarship from ChangeLawyers, which first set him on his social justice path in California. He has never looked back. Since then, Chris' accomplishments have earned him recognition from the New Voices Fellowship, the Gerbode Foundation, and the Levi Strauss Foundation, which named him a Pioneer in Justice.