About the Creators

Nicole Anne Tortorello – Fonovich, M.Ed., Co-author, English Narrator

Nicole Anne TortorelloNICOLE FONOVICH, M.Ed, is a tech-savvy mom blazing a new trail in children's publishing.

Young readers are at the dawn of a new era where eBooks meet interactive apps, and discovery takes many shapes. That's where Nicole, both a children's eBook author and app developer, is becoming a pioneer.

In one year, she expanded a seedling book idea into a multilingual line of 36 eBooks and corresponding apps.
The co-author and co-creator of "Luca Lashes" eBooks and apps, Nicole is also the president of Luca Lashes, LLC, where she oversees company operations—from art and story development to functionality on multiple technological platforms.

With her husband, Damir, she created the series for their son Lucas, as a way to help him conquer his "firsts" with courage and confidence. Lucas and his real-life adventures continue to be the inspiration for the fictional "Luca" stories.

Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts in leadership and advocacy from Kendall College in Evanston, IL, and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.

While serving in the field of Financial Aid Administration for the last 15 years, Nicole has assisted students in every capacity, including her last post as Director of Financial Aid at Touro University in California. Nicole's professional experience runs the gamut in several fields, from management and education to website development.


 

Damir Joseph Fonovich, Co-author, Italian Translator, English & Italian Narrator

Damir FonovichDAMIR FONOVICH serves in many facets of the family company. Aside from the dual roles of husband and dad, he is also co-author, Italian translator, and English and Italian narrator. As Vice President of Content Development, Damir works hand-in-hand with his wife, Nicole, to help write Luca's story.

When he's not parenting or spinning children's stories into other languages, he's working the brick and mortar side of publishing as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble.

Born in the U.S., but with roots in Croatia and Italy, Damir attended the University of Illinois-Chicago, and received a Bachelor’s of Science in marketing and finance. From there, he completed graduate coursework in Child Psychology and Student Counseling at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He also completed a Teacher Certification program at Touro University in California, and taught fourth grade. 

Damir has worn many hats in the book industry: writer, Internet content editor, and teacher. His love of writing, education and family has combined in the ultimate way in this latest endeavor.

Nicole and Damir split their time between Chicago and Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook and on Twitter and learn more at www.LucaLashes.com.


 

Camille Marie Tortorello - Turnbull, Co-author

Camille Tortorello TurnbullCAMILLE TURNBULL has over fifteen years of Student Services and Education Compliance experience specializing in instructor-led education. Her background includes assisting students to reach academic and personal goals while maintaining business and regulatory compliance.  Camille now shifts her background in graduate-level work to efforts supporting the growth of today's youth.  Using the efforts that lead to her induction into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Cum Laude collegiate graduation from Elmhurst College receiving a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Business Administration, Camille seeks to provide positive assistance and guidance to parents and children.


 

Kim Stace Thomas, Illustrator

Kimberly ThomasKIM STACE THOMAS has been working as a freelance illustrator for over a decade and has a BFA from Columbia College Chicago.  The lush details and fine renderings characteristic of her work can be attributed to the hours she spent marveling at classic children's literature as a little girl.  Kim lives in Chicago with her husband and enjoys riding her bike in the parks and seeing live music acts when not working on various artistic endeavors.


 

Fernando Romero, Music Composer

Fernando RomeroFERNANDO ROMERO creates original music and sound design for Film, Television, Theater and all other Multimedia. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Fernando is an accomplished guitar player with over 20 years experience on the stage and in the studio. He is a graduate of the UK based Music for the Media's International Composition program as well as a certified audio engineer receiving formal training at the Los Angeles Recording School and Managing one of New York City's biggest Recording/Rehearsal facilities, Smash Studios. Fernando Music can be found online at http://www.romeromusic.com/.


 

Antoinette Tortorello - Allaway, French Translator & Narrator

Antoinette Allaway TortorelloANTOINETTE TORTORELLO - ALLAWAY is a high school French teacher in a suburb of Chicago. Antoinette majored in French and Secondary Education and minored in Theatre at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, before becoming a French teacher. She also has a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She has several friends and family in France with whom she communicates frequently. Antoinette loves everything about the French language and culture and it has been her passion since she was 14 years old. She would like to extend a personal thank you to her dear friend and colleague, Laurence-Marie Forberg, for her help with the French translations of the Luca Lashes stories. Antoinette also loves exercising, singing, and theatre. She lives in a Chicago suburb with her amazing husband, Dan, and her two, beautiful daughters, Gabriella & Danielle.


 

Mireya Muhlberger, Spanish Translator & Narrator

Mireya Muhlberger

MIREYA MUHLBERGER is an educator and has been an employee of the Chicago Public School System for fifteen years. Growing up, her favorite part of summer was living in Mexico for two months visiting family.  Mireya loves to read and enjoys writing narratives and poetry as a hobby in her spare time. She attended Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa for undergraduate studies and North Eastern Illinois University and Concordia University for postgraduate studies. Mireya has taught in an array of settings including ESL support and regular education programs.  Her hard work and dedication are reflected in her commitment to excellence in education.


 

Charles Fuller (aka 傅怀德), Chinese Translator

Mireya Muhlberger

CHARLES FULLER began studying Chinese right after high school. After an intensive program of study in 1972, he later moved to Taiwan where he lived from 1975–1982, attended college, got married and had a daughter. He later completed his B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature and an M.A. in East Asian Studies—both from Indiana University. After working in China and Macao, he returned to the U.S. for his doctorate in geography from the University of Georgia. He did his graduate work in China from 1985–1987, and again from 1993–1995. Charles spent two years with the International Programs Center of the U.S. Census Bureau calculating the distribution of population in Chinese cities, and two years as a program manager for study abroad programs in China and Japan. Since 1999 he has been teaching college geography and high school Chinese, and conducting multicultural training sessions for business people preparing to live in China. He has also published several reviews of academic books in the fields of geography and economic development along with publishing an Advanced Placement Student Companion Guide for a human geography textbook published by Wiley & Sons.

 

All professional photographs above taken by Christy Clow with Christy Clow Photography