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Bob Lonac

Never Be Weary in Doing the Right Thing – Even If It’s Hard

Does it feel like the right thing for your organization and the right thing for your faith are at odds? You’re not alone.

Non-profit and faith-based leaders face this dilemma constantly. I certainly did throughout my career. Whether it’s fundraising, making key personnel decisions or asking an organization to think outside the box — navigating what to do the right way is difficult.

But it’s not impossible. I can help you ask the right questions – and discover the right answers – to strengthen your team and your organization’s mission.

Bob Lonac is a truth-teller on purpose and his purpose is to help you get from where you are to where God would have you go. Bob is a great listener and somehow hears things you don’t say! Bob is a coach, consultant and teacher with a wealth of experience in leading organizations. If you are looking for wisdom, counsel and experience, call Bob and he will help you see places that you could not reach on your own.

Phyllis Hendry Halverson Phyllis Hendry Halverson, President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus

Here to Deliver Practical Tips to Lead with Confidence

This site serves as the headquarters for my leadership insights. Here you’ll find information about my executive counseling services, updates about my book, Live Large!, and helpful tips on how to lead effectively.

About Bob Lonac

Today, people recognize me as a man of faith and a devoted leader. But this wasn’t always the case. I was born in Aberdeen, Washington into a large Croatian, blue-collar family. All six of my six uncles served in World War II and my dad was a carpenter. We moved to California shortly after I was born. And it was there my dad taught me not only his craft but the value of hard work.

Learning About Leadership and Accepting Christ

My family was not one who talked about or practiced any religious faith. In fact, I didn’t come to know Christ until High School. I was focused on other pursuits — namely baseball. In fifth grade I was the catcher on my school team. Baseball became one of my biggest passions. The experience that year was my first time as a leader. While I wasn’t a gifted athlete, I learned my wits and instincts could help the team succeed. Knowing how to direct fielders, signal the pitcher, and learn from every play became my superpower.

In high school, I was asked to start a Young Life club. At the time, I didn’t believe in Christ. But I accepted the opportunity anyway and I thank the Lord I did. Because it took me to Malibu, one of Young Life’s original camps located on the fjords of British Columbia. It was there I gave my life to Jesus.

Bob Lonac on assignment at Woodleaf in the 70's
Bob Lonac on assignment at Young Life's Malibu in the 70's.

Growing My Leadership Skills at Young Life

My faith continued to grow while I was Westmont College earning my bachelor's in psychology. Upon graduation, I joined the Young Life staff. My role was more than just working with high schoolers. I had to recruit and train volunteers, work with an adult oversight committee, raise money continually, handle numerous administrative tasks, and — above all else — figure out how to relate to and lead all kinds of people.

My role in Young Life grew over the 33 years I served the organization. By the time I moved on, I was the Senior Vice President in charge of the Western United States, Soviet Union, Asia, and Australia.

Bridging Differences as an Abolitionist

In 2001, I became the first Chief Operating Officer of an emerging NGO called International Justice Mission (IJM). Headquartered in Washington, DC, the nonprofit worked around the world to free people from slavery. Those first years, we had a staff of just 15 people and a budget of roughly $2,000,000.

Over the following six years, I helped establish and develop IJM's first full-time fundraising department, spearheading a revenue growth by 20% annually. We established six new offices in Asia and Africa. And, IJM became the fastest-growing Christian NGO in the US at the time.

The work on the ground was exciting. Our team had some of the most passionate and intelligent people I’ve ever met. We were learning and teaching the word of God. We were rescuing slaves — sometimes even going undercover in dangerous situations to save men, women, and children. The experience taught me not only to relate to people from all different backgrounds and walks of life but how to bring them together and lead them towards a common goal.

Speaking on Behalf of YL
Speaking at San Jose YL's Forever ForKids Event in 2012. Bob started his career as a Young Life Club Leader in the Bay Area. photo by t.morris

Developing Institutional Standards and Organizational Growth

In the final 12 years of my career, I served as the CEO of CRISTA Ministries in Seattle, Washington. CRISTA sits on a 56-acre campus in north Seattle. Locally it has several different divisions, including Senior Living Facilities, Radio Stations, Christian Private Schools K-12, and Camps. Additionally, CRISTA works in developing countries through World Concern and Christian Veterinary Mission.

Worldwide, CRISTA has approximately 1,900 full-time employees and a budget of $120,000,000. Among the many developments I spearheaded was reengineering the company culture with institutional developments like a Human Resources department, establishing new radio stations, and completing two multi-million dollar capital campaigns.

Building Life Through Relationships

During this life of working in faith-based, Christ-centered ministry, relationships have proved to be the common thread. My passion is helping other people grow through one-on-one mentoring and small group training. I love building teams. I love seeing people and organizations succeed.

This is what I write about and think about all the time. I think about my family in this way and the people I work with. I am passionate about helping leaders in every walk of life, helping them develop the skills to live a life that changes the world.

I have a box in my office where I collected thoughts throughout my life — lessons I’ve learned and stories that inspire me. This is the impetus for my book, Live Large!

I am still learning a lot. I would love to be on this life long journey with you! If you haven’t yet, please sign up for my email newsletter so we can stay connected.

My 30+ Years of Executive Experience

Young Life: 1967-2000

Various Roles Leading to SVP

  • Helped acquire and develop 6 new Young Life camp properties throughout the Western United States.
  • Personally led the largest Young Life club in the US, averaging 350 high schoolers per week over a 5 year period.
  • Oversaw the establishment of the first Young Life club for students with disabilities, which eventually became Capernaum Club, a nation-wide ministry of Young Life.
  • Supervised the expansion of Young Life work in Asia, Australia, and Russia.

IJM: 2001–2006

Chief Operating Officer

  • Became the first full time COO at IJM.
  • Established and developed the first full-time fundraising department that spearheaded a revenue growth of 20% annually for 6 years.
  • Established 6 new offices in countries in Asia and Africa.
  • Established a church relations department that focused on changing the way the American church understood God’s heart for justice.
  • Helped IJM become the fastest growing Christian NGO in the US during his tenure.

CRISTA: 2006–2019

CEO & President

  • Reengineered the corporate culture of 1,900 full-time employees and established professional Human Relations practices.
  • Instituted the first facilities 20-year master plan with the city of Shoreline.
  • Completed construction of the first major new building for Kings High School— a state of the art STEM building — by successfully completing a $17MM capital campaign. The building was completed on schedule and in budget.
  • Completed a $10MM dollar capital campaign to redevelop a state of the art Fine Arts building completed on schedule and in budget.
  • Established a new Contemporary Christian FM Radio station in Austin, Texas.
  • Acquired and renovated the first CRISTA-owned facility to house Seattle Urban Academy in Seattle. 2019–Present


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