The authors of The Mentoris Project novels and biographies are united by a passion for mentorship. Their backgrounds range from college professor to screenwriter to playwright, but all hope that the stories they tell of extraordinary men and women will inspire the reader to make our shared world a better place.

Robert Barbera

Robert Barbera is a proud Italian-American. His immigrant parents taught him the value of hard work and the importance of family. He made his first stock investment in 1954, only four years out of high school, and bought his first building in 1961. Through hard work, dedication, focus, and the support of his family, he now has 500 units and multiple subsidiary companies, making real estate the cornerstone of his success.

Throughout his life, Robert has built wealth not just for himself and his family, but for many other people in fields as diverse as restaurants, car dealerships, and the financial industry. He launched The Barbera Foundation in 1994 and has donated his time, expertise, and financial resources to many worthy organizations, including Pepperdine University, Thomas Aquinas College, and the California State University system.

Robert was lucky in love, having had a happy, forty-five-year marriage to his late wife, Bernice, and finding love a second time around with Josephine, whom he married in 2003. He is the father of three wonderful children, Ann, John, and Patricia, and the grandfather of seven. 

The Mentoris Project, which this book is part of, represents a piece of Robert’s legacy. It connects the past and the future by honoring the achievements of extraordinary men and women in hope that they will inspire today’s readers.

Robert is the author of Building Wealth: From Shoeshine Boy to Real Estate Magnate, Building Wealth 101, Retire and Refire, and How to Jump-Start Your Way to Real Estate Wealth.

Michael Berick

Michael Berick is a writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in outlets such as the Los Angeles TimesEntertainment WeeklyLA WeeklyAAA Westways Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has written about European chocolate destinations, reviewed artist Ed Ruscha’s retrospective, and penned press material for the Grammy-nominated boxset, Battleground Korea: Songs And Sounds Of America’s Forgotten War. He also might possibly be the only music critic to have voted in both the Fids and Kamily Music Awards and the Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop Poll. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Berick currently lives in Los Angeles with wife, playwright/screenwriter Jennifer Maisel, and their daughter and dog.

Berick is the author of the Mentoris Project book Relentless Visionary: Alessandro Volta.

Jonathan Brown

Jonathan Brown’s book, The Big Crescendo: A Lou Crasher Mystery, will be released in 2019 with Down and Out Books. His second book in the Crasher series comes out in 2020, also with Down and Out Books. He has two short stories in the Palos Verdes Library District Anthology 2016 and Palos Verdes Library District Anthology 2017, and his story “Three Fingers of Scotch” is published in Out Of The Gutter online magazine.

Brown has taken a short story and expanded it to novella length. The story is based on his character Doug “Moose” McCrae, an ex–football playing nightclub bouncer turned amateur PI. Brown hopes to indie publish the book by Christmas 2018.

When not writing, personal training, and teaching drums, Brown enjoys life in sunny Los Angeles with his lovely wife, Sonia.

Brown is the author of the Mentoris Project books, A Boxing Trainer’s Journey: A Novel Based on the Life of Angelo Dundee and Character is What Counts: A Novel Based on the Life of Vince Lombardi.

Joe Cline

Originally from Georgia, Joe Cline majored in anthropology and minored in history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After working on his master’s degree in biological anthropology at Georgia State, he ventured westward to California for more graduate school at Pepperdine University and received his master’s degree in fine arts in screenwriting for television and film. His interests include writing (duh), lots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, history, evolutionary theory, primatology, coffee, and his fabled battle cat of lore, Monkeycat.

Cline is the author of the Mentoris Project book, Building Heaven’s Ceiling: A Novel Based on the Life of Filippo Brunelleschi.

Cynthia Cooper

Cooper is a playwright, journalist, and author. As a former practicing attorney, she often writes on topics of law and justice. Her plays have won several awards and have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, Buffalo, Minneapolis, Reno, Montreal, Budapest, Jerusalem, and more, and have been published in sixteen volumes. She has authored or coauthored seven nonfiction books; one, Mockery of Justice, was made into a CBS-TV movie. She lives in New York City.

Cooper is the author of the Mentoris Project book No Person Above the Law: A Novel Based on the Life of Judge John J. Sirica.

Kingsley Day

Kingsley Day has written and composed numerous works for the stage, including (with Philip LaZebnik) the musical Summer Stock Murder and the comedy Tour de Farce, both produced multiple times in the US and abroad. His critically acclaimed score for Gilbert & Sullivan’s Thespis, for which Sullivan’s original score is lost, has received four Chicago-area productions. For Chicago’s City Lit Theater, he has composed incidental music for Prometheus Bound, The Tempest, London Assurance, and Volpone and edited a new performing score for the Jerome Kern musical Oh, Boy! Day has served as music director for productions at City Lit and across the Chicago area. His new reconstruction of Chopin’s last mazurka is published by Hal Leonard’s Schirmer Performance Editions series, and he has given presentations on the piece at the Eastman School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, Lawrence University, Wesleyan University, and the University of Oklahoma. Day is the resident director for the Savoyaires, a Chicago-area Gilbert & Sullivan company that produced his original one-act Six Characters in Search of Gilbert & Sullivan and where he played the patter baritone lead in all fourteen G&S operettas. He has also been seen in such roles as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Sir Harcourt Courtly in London Assurance, Charlie Baker in The Foreigner, and Terry in Casa Valentina. Day has written extensively for publications by Northwestern University, where he was lead publications editor in the Office of Global Marketing and Communications.

Day is the author of Music’s Guiding Hand: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Guido d’Arezzo.

Christopher Columbus statue at Thomas Aquinas College

Dr. Mario Di Giovanni was born in 1911, in a small town near Avellino, Italy. He migrated to the United States with his family when he was 10.

After high school, Di Giovanni earned a BA in mechanical engineering and a PhD in science from New York University. He was a college professor and researcher, including biomedical research related to the human heart. His efforts contributed to the development of the first artificial heart. In all, he filed and obtained more than thirty patents.

In addition to his work, Di Giovanni had a lifelong love and admiration for the legendary feats of the great Genoese navigator, Christopher Columbus. He had been collecting material about Columbus for some years, but it wasn’t until he suffered a heart attack in 1980 that Di Giovanni began in earnest to write his book on the famous navigator. Unfortunately, he died in 1986, before the book was completed.

But thanks to the initiative of Columbus Explorers, Inc., the book was completed. It was a particularly fitting tribute to Columbus because it was the 500th anniversary of his discovery. The book is also a deserved memorial to Di Giovanni. The Mentoris Project is proud to re-release Christopher Columbus: His Life and Discoveries as a paperback and ebook.

Kate Fuglei

An actress, singer, and writer, Fuglei created a one-woman show, Rachel Calof,  based on the memoir of a Jewish homesteader, and has performed it around America. It won Best Musical at the 2015 United Solo Festival in New York City. Fuglei has appeared in more than forty roles in episodic television and film, and she was in the First National Broadway tour of Spring Awakening

Based in Los Angeles, she has played leading roles in regional theaters across the country, among them Arena Stage, the Public Theater in NYC, and the La Jolla Playhouse. Two of her short stories appear as part of Sister Writereaters, a book of essays about motherhood and food.

Fuglei is the author of the Mentoris Project books: The Dream of Life: A Novel Based on the Life of Federico Fellini,  The Embrace of Hope: A Novel Based on the Life of Frank Capra, Fermi’s Gifts: A Novel Based on the Life of Enrico Fermi, and The Soul of a Child: A Novel Based on the Life of Maria Montessori.

Nicole Gregory

Nicole Gregory is a writer and editor living in Southern California with her husband and son. She has been the Home and Garden/Travel editor at the Orange County Register, and has written and edited for numerous publications, including VIV magazine, Family CircleThe Boston GlobeLos Angeles magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and others. Recent features she’s written include stories about a treehouse designer, why we need a surgeon general, how a cocoa bean chemical can reverse memory loss, and reasons to take an inn-to-inn hike along the Southern California coast. When she’s not obsessing about her garden, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading fiction.

Gregory is the author of the Mentoris Project books, God’s Messenger, The Astounding Achievements of Mother Cabrini: A Novel Based on the Life of Mother Frances X. Cabrini, Defying Danger: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Matteo Ricci, Desert Missionary: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Eusebio Kino, and The Seven Senses of Italy.

Peg A. Lamphier, PhD

Peg A. Lamphier lives in the mountains of Southern California with five dogs, seven tortoises, a huge cat, two canaries, one husband, one daughter, and a collection of vintage ukuleles. When she’s not writing fiction or otherwise fooling around, she’s a professor at California State Polytechnic, Pomona, and Mount San Antonio Community College. For more information and to sign up for her newsletter see

Lamphier is the author of the Mentoris Project books, Little By Little We Won: A Novel Based on the Life of Angela Bambace, Soldier, Diplomat, Archaeologist: A Novel Based on the Bold Life of Louis Palma di Cesnola, and What a Woman Can Do: A Novel Based on the Life of Artemisia Gentileschi.

Maurizio Marmorstein

Maurizio Marmorstein is an award-winning screenwriter, documentary filmmaker, and educator. Holding both American and Italian citizenship, he has lived and worked in Italy for the past twenty-three years where, as an associate professor at a small liberal arts college in Rome, he specialized in Italian theater and film while also teaching courses in scriptwriting and adapting literature to the screen.

Marmorstein started out writing plays immediately upon receiving his M.A. in Italian Studies from Middlebury College. His two full-length Italianate farces, The Abductors and Big Deals, were produced in Santa Cruz, California, and his one-act play, Joyride, found success in San Francisco and New York City. As a screenwriter, five of his feature length scripts have been optioned, three of which were either winners or finalists in prominent screenwriting contests. His crime drama, Ferryman’s Grotto, set in the hills of central Italy, and his musical drama, One Night in Asbury Park, were also honored as quarterfinalists and semifinalists, respectively, in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting competition.

In addition, Marmorstein has co-produced two award-winning short documentaries: Uno degli Ultimi, an intimate look into the life of an aging contadino (small farmer) in a dying Italian village, and Beneath the Underdog, a heartfelt look at immigration and soccer in today’s Italy.  

Marmorstein now lives in a quaint hilltop village in northern Lazio, just a stone’s throw from the Tuscan and Umbrian borders, with his wife of many years. He has finally abandoned academia to live the good life writing screenplays and novels fulltime.

Marmorstein is the author of the Mentoris Project book The Making of a Prince: A Novel Based on the Life of Niccolò Machiavelli and The Pirate Prince of Genoa: A Novel Based on the Life of Admiral Andrea Doria.

Eric D. Martin

Eric D. Martin is a screenwriter and novelist. Currently, he is the executive producer and head writer for the highly acclaimed Marvel and Disney+ streaming series, Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson. Previously, Eric has worked in series television on Rick and Morty and the premium cable television drama Heels. In 2017, Eric published the historical fiction novel, Saving the
, based on the life of Roman statesman Marcus Cicero. Eric has a bachelor of art in film studies from the University of California and a masters of fine art in screen and television writing from Pepperdine University. In his free time, Eric enjoys studying history, climbing mountains and running. For some reason, he has run ten marathons and completed his second ultra marathon in 2021. His favorite food is water.

Martin is the author of the Mentoris Project book Saving the Republic: A Novel Based on the Life of Marcus Cicero.

Francesco Massaccesi is an Italian screenwriter. A committed scholar of world cinema, he has authored and collaborated on several Italian and international magazines and books, as well as having worked in different fields of the film industry. An avid reader and researcher, his interest in history spans from antiquity to contemporaneity.

Massaccesi is the author of the Mentoris Project book First Among Equals: A Novel Based on the Life of Cosimo de’ Medici.

Collin Mitchell

Collin Mitchell is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, with a degree in Comparative Literature and Film Studies. Originally from the Bay Area, he now resides in Los Angeles.

Mitchell is the author of the Mentoris Project book The Faithful: A Novel Based on the Life of Giuseppe Verdi.

Peter David Myers

Myers has sold, written for hire, or optioned ten theatrical feature scripts and has done a number of rewrites for indie film and TV producers. Two short films, a stage play, and numerous TV public service announcements have been produced from his scripts.

His produced projects include nine Chapters in Black American History, the drama/comedy The Pickup, his half-hour suspense drama, Double Cross, as well as Speak To The World, a pilot for an interview show.

One of Myers’ comedy feature scripts won an Honorable Mention at the Thunderbird International Film Festival Script Competition.  

He has judged scripts for UCLA’s Master of Fine Arts Screenwriting Showcase and has been a regular panelist at the West Coast Writers Conference.  His advice to screenwriters is part of Tarcher/Penguin’s anthology, NOW WRITE! Screenwriting: Exercises by Today’s Best Screenwriters, Teachers and Consultants

Myers is the author of the Mentoris Project books, Leonardo’s Secret: A Novel Based on the Life of Leonardo da Vinci and Dark Labyrinth: A Novel Based on the Life of Galileo Galilei.

Margaret O’Reilly

Margaret O’Reilly attended Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. After graduating in 1984, she earned catechetical certification from Our Lady of Peace Pontifical Catechetical Institute in Beaverton, Oregon. She taught high school theology and Church history at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mrs. O’Reilly and her husband have twelve children whom they teach at home. Her articles on theological and apologetic topics have appeared in Catholic publications including Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and The Catholic Response.

O’Reilly is the author of the Mentoris Project books, Humble Servant of Truth: A Novel Based on the Life of Thomas Aquinas and Sinner, Servant, Saint: A Novel Based on the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

W.A.W. Parker

W.A.W. Parker is an award-winning novelist, TV, and screenwriter in Los Angeles. His last novel, The Wasteland, won the 2021 American Fiction Award in LGBTQ Fiction and was a Finalist in the International Book Awards, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards in LGBTQ Fiction. He grew up in northeastern Montana, an area The Washington Post has dubbed “the middle of nowhere,” and then attended Harvard.

Parker is the author of the Mentoris Project books The Divine Proportions of Luca Pacioli: A Novel Based on the Life of Luca Pacioli and The Judicious Use of Intangibles: A Novel Based on the Life of Pietro Belluschi.

Stacia Raymond

Stacia Raymond is a freelance writer and editor based in Southern California. With more than twenty years of experience in the film and television industry, Raymond has built a body of work that includes fiction, non-fiction, and ghostwriting for clients in the fields of music, film, and technology. Raymond’s television writing has been produced by CBS, Paramount, and Lifetime, and she has developed projects with Showtime and ABC Family. In 2013, she was awarded a Fellowship with the Puglia Film Commission as part of a program to bring more production to the Southern Italian region.

Raymond holds a B.A. in Communications from The American University and an M.F.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Raymond is currently working on her first book for children, The Carol of the Ornaments, and maintains a blog of personal essays focusing on the serendipitous nature of everything.

Raymond is the author of the Mentoris Project books At Last: A Novel Based on the Life of Harry Warren and Grace Notes: A Novel Based on the Life of Henry Mancini.

Karen Richardson

Karen Richardson is the managing editor for The Mentoris Project. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three shaggy mutts.

Richardson is the author of the Mentoris Project book Harvesting the American Dream: A Novel Based on the Life of Ernest Gallo.

Jule Selbo

Jule Selbo is an award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. She has written feature films, and written and produced television series for major studios and networks. Credits include George Lucas’s Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, HBO’s Women Behind BarsPrison Stories, and the feature Hard Promises, starring Sissy Spacek; her Disney credits include the animated features Hunchback of Notre Dame Part DeuxCinderella II, and Ariel’s Beginning. Her plays Boxes and Isolate have won regional theater awards. Her novels include Find Me In Florence (2019), Dreams of Discovery, A Novel Based on the Life of John Cabot (2019) and Pilgrim Girl (2005, co-written with Laura Peters). She is a professor at California State University, Fullerton, and has written books on screenwriting and film history, including Screenplay: Building Story Through Character (2015), Film Genre for the Screenwriter (2015), and Women Screenwriters: An International Guide (2016, edited with Jill Nelmes), contributed to Journal of Screenwriting as well as anthologies on film and essays in magazines such as Décor Maine. She is a writer on the podcast MeetCute. She holds a PhD in film from the University of Exeter in England and holds seminars on writing in the USA and internationally.

Selbo is the author of the Mentoris Project books Dreams of Discovery: A Nobel Based on the Life of John Cabot and Breaking Barriers: A Novel Based on the Life of Laura Bassi.

Leilani Smith

Born in Osan, Korea, to Claude Smith Sr. and Ok Cho Smith, Leilani Smith was the first female black belt to also become an instructor at her school. She was recently on stage in God of Carnage ( The Odyssey ) The Museum of Safekeeping ( The Autry ) and Annabella in July ( North Coast Rep. )  and as Sally in indie thriller Don’t Die—named Official Selection at the Sidewalk Film Festival August 2023. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak on such a profound life . . . I hope you hear something you haven’t heard about Mother Cabrini or fall in love with her as much as I did or be reminded of her journey once again.”

Smith narrates Mentoris Project’s audiobook God’s Messenger, The Astounding Achievements of Mother Cabrini: A Novel Based on the Life of Mother Frances X. Cabrini.

Francesca Valente

A journalist and a cultural mediator, Dr. Francesca Valente was director of several Italian Cultural Institutes (IIC) in North America for more than thirty years. In her most recent post in Los Angeles, she coordinated the eight IIC of USA and Canada. She produced several short films, edited over 100 catalogues and publications, and translated thirty-five works by such renowned authors as Margaret Atwood, Giorgio Bassani, Leonard Cohen, Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan, Michael Ondaatje, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. She has lectured at University of California at Berkeley; University of Southern California; LUISS University and La Sapienza, Rome.

Valente is the author of the Mentoris Project books A.P. Giannini: The People’s Banker (also available in Italian) and Rita Levi-Montalcini: Pioneer and Ambassador of Science.

Patric Verrone

A writer, theatrical artist, and student of the world originally from Los Angeles, Patric studied psychology with a secondary in studies in women, gender, and sexuality at Harvard University. His plays have been produced and workshopped by the Blank Theater in Los Angeles, the Harvard Playwrights Festival, and The Custom Made Theater in San Francisco. Recently, he has researched under the guidance of Michael Bronski for an upcoming anthology series of collected historical essays. When he isn’t writing, Patric loves to take hikes with his dog.

Verrone is the author of the Mentoris Project book Ride Into the Sun: A Novel Based on the Life of Scipio Africanus.

Rosanne Welch, PhD

Rosanne Welch is a writer, producer, and university professor with credits that include Beverly Hills 90210Picket FencesTouched by an Angel, and ABC NEWS/Nightline. She is the author of Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture (McFarland, 2017). She is co-editor, with Peg A. Lamphier, of Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection (ABC-CLIO, 2017).

Welch has also published chapters in Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television (I. B.Tauris) and The American Civil War on Film and TV: Blue and Gray in Black and White and Color (Lexington Books, 2018), and an essay in Doctor Who and Race: An Anthology.

By day she teaches courses on the history of screenwriting and on television writing for the Stephens College MFA in screenwriting programs. Her talk, “The Importance of Having a Female Voice in the Room,” at the 2016 TEDxCPP can be viewed at here.

Welch is the author of the Mentoris Project books America’s Forgotten Founding Father: A Novel Based on the Life of Filippo Mazzei and A Man of Action Saving Liberty: A Novel Based on the Life of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Pamela Winfrey

Pamela Winfrey is an award-winning writer and curator.

As a writer, she specializes in writing surreal plays for a thinking audience. She is especially interested in the relationship between theater, reality, science, surrealism and mental health issues. She has received funding from the Sloan Foundation and the Marin Arts Council and was a finalist at Arts and Letters. She won an award at the Method and Madness Festival in Denton, Texas, and her work received the Audience Favorite and Best Actress awards at Variations Theater in Manhattan. Her plays have been seen as far away as Toronto and Ireland. She was one of the founding members of Mobius Operandi, an electro-acoustic sound sculpture ensemble and performance company which produced five large-scale, walk-through, site-specific performance pieces in San Francisco.

As a curator, Winfrey represented the United States in the Interactive Art Panel at Ars Electronica (Linz), was the lead curatorial consultant for Emerging Artforms for Creative Capital, and curated more than 100 exhibitions, performances, artworks, and installations at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where she is senior artist emeritus. She was the co-curator for the West Gallery, a gallery which explores human phenomena, and curated “The Changing Face of What is Normal,” an exhibition on mental health that was dear to her heart. She has a BA in theater, an MA in interdisciplinary arts, and is currently getting her MFA in screenwriting from Stephens College.

Winfrey is the author of the Mentoris Project books, Marconi and His Muses: A Novel Based on the Life of Guglielmo Marconi and The Architect Who Changed Our World: A Novel Based on the Life of Andrea Palladio.