Board of Directors

Mark Percy


Mark focuses on unifying high capacity families around a significant common purpose, and seeks to elevate their positive social impact as well as highlight creative ways to invest in the next generation. He is the Vice President, Strategic Relations for KNET, a consortium enterprise that serves as the family office for the Kay Family in Orange County, CA. Mark serves as a leadership advisor to the Oates Family in Sacramento and is a Board member of the Marvin Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation. He is a Regional (California) Philanthropy Advisor for Excellence in Giving, one of the leading full-service philanthropic advisory firms in the U.S. Mark is Chairman and one of the co-founders of OC Advisors in Philanthropy (www.ocaip.org). In addition, he Chairs the Workforce Development Committee of the OC STEM Initiative, a coalition of leading foundations spearheading STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) literacy in OC. Mark received his BA from Stanford University, MBA from Yale University, and is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®). From 1986 to 2008 he held executive positions primarily in privately held firms – including president of a family business that strategically empowered US companies, including AT&T, Motorola, Westinghouse, and United Technologies, to expand in emerging market economies. For 4 years he lead the government business development initiatives of a Fortune 500 corporation. Mark lives in Aliso Viejo, CA with his wife of 38 years, Leslee. They have two married adult children and two adorable grandchildren.

Neil Sahota


Neil Sahota is an IBM Master Inventor and World Wide Business Development Leader in the IBM Watson Group. With over 15+ years of experience in business, he works with Global Fortune 500 clients and high growth business partners to ideate next generation products/solutions powered by Watson. Parts of Neil’s responsibilities include identifying target markets, developing business cases, and creating the market launch strategy. Prior to this role, he was a Thought Leader Consultant and Practice Leader in IBM Global Business Services where he was responsible for the sales and delivery of complex consulting engagements spanning business strategy, new product development, revenue optimization, process improvement, and business and system integration. His work experience spans multiple industries including healthcare, life sciences, retail, travel and transportation, energy and utilities, automotive, telecommunications, media/communication, and government. Moreover, Neil is one of the few IBMers selected for IBM's Corporate Service Corps leadership program that pairs leaders with NGOs to perform community-driven economic development projects. For his assignment, Neil lived and worked in Ningbo, China where he partnered with Chinese corporate CEOs to create a leadership development program. Neil is also an active volunteer in IBM’s Academic Initiative program that creates partnership opportunities between the IBM and the country’s top universities. He also serves as a business mentor for IBM’s Extreme Blue program that is an incubator for new product ideas. With Neil’s guidance, IBM developed new products and services in the areas of Business Analytics, Smarter Healthcare, Smarter Energy, Mobile Channel Development, and Social Media Solutions. Moreover, Neil partners with entrepreneurs to define their products, establish their target markets, and structure their companies. He is a member of the Tech Coast Angels and The Cove Fund Investment committee and assists startups with investor funding. Neil also serves as a judge in the Butterworth Product Competition, mentor in the K5 Launch accelerator program, and coach for various start up competitions. In addition to his professional work, Neil actively volunteers his time to help nonprofits and foundations with event management, fund raising, grant reviews, and site visits. Neil is also a dedicated member of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Alumni Association and a former member on the UCI Alumni Board of Directors and Executive Committee. As the former VP of Programs, he developed the Anteater MeetUps, Virtual Roundtables, and cross-school partnerships for joint events. Neil also serves on the Board of Directors for the Orange County Marathon and actively supports their work with the OC Kids program in fighting childhood obesity.

Shannon Alfaro

Curriculum Director


Shannon has been a part of the AppJam+ team since 2012, has served the program in various leadership roles, and currently serves as Curriculum Director. She is passionate about the AppJam+ mission to help students from under-represented communities discover their talents, and possible future in STEM related careers. Professionally, Shannon has been a Computer Science Lecturer for the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at UC Irvine since 2003.

Nithin Jilla

Executive Director


Nithin Jilla obtained his Bachelor degree in Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. He is a passionate educator and social entrepreneur who champions educating and empowering the next generation of innovators. Nithin has been involved with AppJam+, the main outreach initiative of Dreams for Schools since it began in 2012. He is currently the Executive Director of Dreams for Schools, working with the team, to bring STEM after-school programs and exposure of careers to students in underserved and low-income communities. Nithin also serves as the Director of Programs at the Kay Family Foundation and is a consultant on Educational Programs to the Orange County Department of Education. Nithin has an interest in technology, education and enjoys working collectively with leaders to bring about positive impact. He aspires to build models and systems that are sustainable, and empower the next generation of youth to become leaders in their local community. Nithin has spoken at the Clinton Global Initiative University, International CES Transforming Edu EdTech Conference and others about the importance of a strong STEM and Computer Science educated youth. Nithin also serves on a number of advisory boards of Child S.H.A.R.E, American India Foundation Young Professionals OC, and the UC Irvine Young Alumni Council.