About the Zita Institute


Mission Statement

The Zita Institute for Foundations and Ethics in Leadership exists to spread Our Lord Jesus Christ’s living embodiment of Leadership, namely: 1) that “the last will be first,” [MT 20:16] and 2) “whoever loses his life…will find it.” [MT 16:25]. We spread this sacrificial notion of leadership through speaking engagements, written and online courses, consultation opportunities, and supporting local initiatives that reflect this spirit. While being open to proclaiming this radical understanding of leadership to all, we especially have in mind building relationships with Charitable Boards, Parish Councils, Priest and Religious gatherings, and Young Adult groups, primarily within the Catholic Church. In all our energies, we hope to imitate the humility, humanity, and heart of Jesus Christ, but also the witness of local heroes like Sister Zita Brennan of Des Moines.


bo bonner



In addition to Directing the Zita Institute, Bo is also the Director of Mission and Ministry at Mercy College of Health Sciences where he teaches classes on Leadership, an instructor for the Faith Journey Catechetical Institute for the Diocese of Des Moines, and Co-Host of “The UnCommon Good” on Iowa Catholic Radio. He converted to Catholicism in the midst of Protestant Seminary at Duke Divinity School in 2006, became a Benedictine Oblate at Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma in 2009, and has spoke on topics related to Philosophy, Theology, Literature, and Leadership from 2010 onward. He has been married over a decade and a half to his wife Robyn, and so far, has four children: Elias, Stella, Antonia, and Finnian. Bo was born on the feast of St. Blaise, the patron of throats, and has not stopped talking ever since. He would love to come speak with you and yours!


"Every talk I've heard from Bo leaves me ready to move closer to the Lord. He also leaves me with a side ache from laughing so hard. He is one of the few speakers who can command the attention of every person in the room. And he always leaves you wanting more. You will walk away changed."

/ jon leonetti, best selling author and national speaker /


""Not everyone can have an audience laughing one minute and deep in thought the next. Yet, Bo manages to do just that keeping everyone fully engaged. Weeks later parishioners are still talking about how they are putting into practice what they learned from Bo."

/ Samantha ridder, Director of faith formation & youth ministry, St. Mary’s, oskaloosa, ia /


"Bo’s brilliant mind, matched with scintillating wits, delivers pragmatic approach to theological reflections on faith, life, and leadership helpful for anyone who seeks to be a servant leader."

/ John Huynh, Director of Faith Journey, Diocese of Des moines /


Sr. Mary Zita Brennan


our local witness to SACRIFICIAL leadership and namesake

More Coming Soon...


A Little More About "God's Shiv"

When I was younger, I wanted to be God's hammer, knocking down idols with my words and liberating those enthralled by their charms.

When I was a bit older, I wanted to be God's scalpel, making surgically precise cuts with my arguments to cure men of their errors. 

Now, I realize this--all I am is God's shiv*:

-Not anything all that special

-Everyone else, including myself, long thought that I was created for some specific, different purpose

-But instead, I'm what the Good Lord has laying around, and with some reshaping on His part, He can make due with me in a fight. 

And that's good enough for me.



*Yep, shiv is another word for shank. And these are the type of metaphors I like to make. We are going to have some fun together, I promise.