Sarah B. Scruggs, PHD, R-HYI

Executive Director

Dr. Scruggs holds a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Medicine, and postdoctoral training in functional omics sciences and data science at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is also certified in general yoga instruction and in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Dr. Scruggs worked as a Project Scientist at UCLA on several National Institutes of Health-funded projects that discovered novel mechanisms underlying complex disease pathogenesis. In 2017, Dr. Scruggs relocated to central Illinois and founded the Arukah Institute, with the goal of bringing holistic and innovative methods of behavioral healthcare to rural communities. Dr. Scruggs has 18+ peer-reviewed publications and several digital research products. She is a strong proponent of team science and collaborative work  to accomplish a common goal.


Chief Communications & Outreach Officer

Ms. Gustafson holds a B.S. in Interior Design from the International Academy of Technology and Design, and is certified in both general and pre/post-natal yoga instruction from the Yoga Alliance-accredited Holy Yoga Inc. She is also certified in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Prior to joining the Arukah staff in 2017, Ms. Gustafson worked as an Office Manager in the Human Resources division at BC Tech in Princeton, IL. Ms. Gustafson is highly skilled in multi-media marketing and handles general operations and day-to-day functions of Arukah’s programming. In her yoga practice, Ms. Gustafson desires to create a space of belonging for those who have never felt accepted or worthy. 

Jamie L. Taylor, LPC

Behavioral Health Therapist

Ms. Taylor has a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northwestern University in Chicago. She has worked with adolescents for over 15 years, and counseled since 2019. She has worked with a variety of trauma, addictions (including porn and sex), grief, non-suicidal and suicidal injury, lifelong conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. She is EMDR-trained which treats trauma, addiction and other diagnoses. She has a passion to change lives and aid in the restoration of individuals by helping clients discover their strengths, build a support system, and develop healthy lifestyles. Her clinical vision is “to ensure my office atmosphere is a safe place for clients and their families to experience their vulnerabilities while sharing their stories.” Jamie is a Clinical Professional Counselor (LPC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), International Alcohol & Other Drug Counselor (AOD), and a trainer/teacher in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) and Applied Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). In her role at Arukah, Ms. Taylor leads the Suicide Prevention Program, provides training for teachers and parents on youth mental health, and instructs teen group counseling.

Stephen Christopherson, LSW, CADC

behavioral health therapist

Stephen Christopherson is a Licensed Social Worker with a certification in addictions counseling. Stephen worked at The Gateway Foundation Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center in the Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Unit and in the Men’s Residential Unit, employing a Mindfulness Based Sobriety program to help clients recognize a need for change and begin to develop a solid foundation in their recovery. He also worked at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health Outpatient Center, using a Dialectical approach for clients and chronic and acute mental health concerns. 

With a desire to help individuals improve their quality of life and achieve a sense of happiness regardless of their circumstances, Stephen is able to draw from his education and his own personal experiences to connect with people, developing strong therapeutic relationships to assist in lasting change. Stephen graduated from Aurora University with an undergraduate and graduate degree in Social Work with Addicitions Counseling specialization. 

Courtney Bayer, R-HYI, C-HI Therapy

Mind-Body Program Lead

Courtney Bayer is a Louisiana native transitioned into yoga after several years in the fitness world. She’s taught all ages, genders, and skill levels in a wide range of settings from gyms, churches, studios and schools to city parks and client’s homes. She leads an authentic and non-judgment style of teaching in her classes and firmly believes yoga is for everyone and everybody. As a believer in Christ, she chose Holy Yoga for her R-HYI 225hr and R-HYT 300hr Yoga Therapy certifications. She’s a certified leader in Yoga for 12 Step Recovery, Y12SR and is in the middle of her R-IAYT 1000hr training and accreditation at Pranayoga School in Fort Wayne, IN. Her most recent project is developing a preventative holistic approach to support school aged children in addition to facility and staff and is completing her RYCT certification. Her classes are a blend of biblical wisdom and thought-provoking devotions that leave space for the client to deepen a personal faith practice and leave with an inspired sense of wellness. She believes we are more alike than we are different and is unafraid to laugh at herself and use humor to foster real relatability and connection. With an extensive background in dance, she believed yoga would be a breeze but after each practice she was humbled to admit that, “I am still on my own yoga journey. In the quiet mindful movements and meditation, a delicate self-awareness evolves. You learn not only in practice but in life to walk with humility, compassion, and a new sense of self. This is where I find the intimate union of mind, body and spirit.”

Stephanie Christian

Care Coordinator

Ms. Christian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Spanish from Greenville University located in Greenville, IL. Ms. Christian grew up in the Bureau County area and she decided to come back to her home area in order to further her career in the field of mental health. Ms. Christian wants to eventually attend Graduate school in hopes of seeking a career as a counselor. Ms. Christian has worked in the field of mental health for a little over a year and she is very excited to take on this new role of Care Coordinator here at Arukah. Ms. Christian is also the Social Determinants Group Leader for C5-Rural, a collaborative, complementary, conventional, and community-based care network based out of Princeton, IL. Through her schooling, internships, and past experiences, Ms. Christian is confident that she has the skills and capabilities to help our surrounding community members and more. Ms. Christian also has a passion for integrating her Spanish speaking, interpretation, and translating skills with her position here at Arukah. Ms. Christian is continually learning and is always seeking out new ways of how to efficiently help her clients. In her position, Ms. Christian has the perspective that everyone is deserving of help and she believes that it is a general right to have access to resources and guidance when it is needed.

Vanessa Abellan

Recovery Support Specialist

Ms. Abellan joined our team as a Recover Support Specialist, who came to use through our partnership with Business Employment Skills Team. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree and has a desire to continue her education and training in order to become a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Ms. Abellan will work to follow up and connect with those struggling with opioid or other drug addiction, and in doing so, will be a persistent voice of hope and encouragement to those who feel hopeless and entrenched in their addiction. 

Deb Stetson

Administrative Professional

Ms. Stetson is currently an administrative professional for Arukah. She holds a BS in Business Education from Western Illinois University. She has taught business and mathematics for 40 years: 20 years at Western High School, 4 at Bureau Valley High School, 1 at Hall High School and 15 Princeton High School. While a teacher, she also coached girls’ basketball, sponsored the school newspaper and web page, sponsored the National Honor Society and the First Class Club which coordinated activities such as birthday club, decorating for Christmas, Veteran’s Day activities, etc. 

Jen Alter


Ms. Alter is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in accounting, and she brings 22 years of accounting, financial practices and systems to ensure sound financial management. Among various roles throughout her career, Ms. Alter has served as a financial auditor of not-for-profit and governmental audits at Clifton Gunderson, LLC, with extensive experience in preparing financial statements and tax preparations. In addition to her role at Arukah, she serves as CFO of Illinois Valley Container, Inc., in Peru, IL. At Arukah, she manages all accounting functions and administers accounts receivables, accounts payable, payroll and tax deposits, cash reconciliations and the daily accounting duties. She prepares monthly, quarterly and end of year financial statements along with corresponding financial analysis to management. She actively manages the annual budget and income/expense accounts. Along with the financials, she manages various aspects of human resources. Ms. Alter believes in using her talents to bless and serve others.

DR. Mike Lau

Chief Operating & Compliance Officer

Dr. Michael Lau has been a Licensed Psychotherapist for over 24 years and has provided treatment to children, adolescents, and adults through eclectic best practice approaches that have been proven effective. He always tries to meet each individual at their own point in their recovery process and provide each with a non-directive, client-centered approach to treatment. Accepting and understanding each individual for who they are and what they bring and expect from the therapy process has always been a key variable in successful treatment for each individual he works with. Being able to demonstrate positive outcomes through the use of quantitative measures has been able to provide concrete evidence to individuals that recovery, balance, and overall wellness is possible. Lau has experience in psychological testing and evaluation. In addition to clinical work, he has applied corporate compliance and performance improvement theory as well as statistical process control and total quality management principles to behavioral healthcare. Education includes a BA in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an MA in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University, an MS in Engineering: Quality Control from Southern California University, and a PhD in Health Care Management/Psychology from Southern California University. He holds a Certification as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Dawn Conerton

C-5 Rural Program Coordinator

Ms. Conerton holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL. During the course of Ms. Conerton’s career, she has successfully helped build and maintained a community prevention coalition, CPASA, that led in environmental prevention efforts. With graduating from the National Coalition Academy, she gained the knowledge and understanding of the importance of building a community coalition and to increase community collaboration towards a common goal between stakeholders and sector representatives. In conjunction with key staff and volunteers, provided the leadership on various initiatives and environmental strategies designed to increase the coalition’s capacity to reduce youth substance use. With Ms. Conerton’s experience and knowledge of coalition’s this is why her working with C5-Rural as the Program Coordinator is a great fit. She is passionate in working with the coalition and community members and ensures that all coalition members are educated in current youth substance use problems along with educating them on environmental and policy changes. She also has served as the chief business development officer at North Central Behavioral Health Systems working on the annual marketing and business development plans and as Director of Health Education at the Bureau Putnam Marshall County Health Department. 

Devin Lanham

Recovery Support Specialist

Ms Lanham, a Princeton native, lives with her two children and husband. She is dedicated to bringing about change and providing hope to individuals who don’t feel like they have a way out of their situation. Ms. Lanham provides a safe place and walks alongside those affected by mental health and substance use disorders. She is currently enrolled in Peer Support Training and leading our weekly Smart Recovery Group. A recovery support specialist helps create a vision for recovery, define goals, will ask questions and listen, identify and remove barriers to recovery, supports choices and helps make goals a reality. 

Nicholas Warren

Recovery Support Specialist

Born and raised in Princeton, IL, Nicolas has been aware of and experienced many of the issues plaguing the area. Specifically, he is interested in combating the epidemic of depression and suicide that plagues Princeton, Bureau County, and the surrounding area. Additionally, he is committed to serving the youth and young adult population so that they can effectively live their lives and improve the community in their own way. By working through Arukah, Nicolas hopes to turn Princeton into a model of how to effectively do mental health in a rural community that will be looked to for decades to come. Beyond Arukah, Nicolas hopes to gain more experience and education to become a licensed clinical psychologist so that he can more directly serve the community.

Kevin Scruggs

WORTH program Director and Prevention Team

Kevin Scruggs is a licensed elementary education teacher who spent 9 years in the classroom teaching.  He is now creating, directing, and producing the WORTH video series which is a weekly video series for use in the school environment that addresses topics such as mental health, substance abuse, and relationship advice.  These videos are produced with the intent to engage and entertain the youth population. “I came to Arukah to join the innovative fight to engage youth and educate the community in creative ways.”

Ashley Chan

Mind-Body Facilitator

Ashley is a certified 500-hour yoga teacher with a specialization in rocket vinyasa and 100-hour certified meditation instructor. She is committed to personal growth and learning. She desires to lead clients through a unified mind body experience to find true inner peace. She has a passion for inclusivity and is skilled in offering adaptations to provide support for all bodies. Ashley desires to serve rural populations through a trauma informed lens.

Belinda Brown

Mind-Body Facilitator

Belinda a mom to three grown, happy and beautiful children. Travel, backpacking, adventure, and wellness are a just a few of her passions. She started her instructor journey as a fitness coach in 2009 and her love of adventure and the great outdoors inspired her to summit Pikes Peak and then on to Rishikesh, India earning her RYT-200 certification. She is accredited with Yoga Alliance and draws on her trainings with Holy Yoga Global and Y12SR-The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery for class inspiration. Her classes are for EVERYBODY! You’re always welcomed with a warm smile, and she thoughtfully invites students to use props and variations homing in on the student creating a personal practice. 

Alison White

Behavior Health Therapist, Recovery Support Supervisor

Alison holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Northern Illinois University. Alison completed her clinical internship at Haymarket Center in Chicago on the Men’s Residential Unit. Alison previously worked as the Safe Passage Program Coordinator (a police deflection program for substance use) and at Rosecrance in Rockford, IL on the Women’s Residential Unit. Alison has a history of working with individuals with co-occurring disorders utilizing CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing all while focusing on the development of innovative strategies to meet people where they are at. Alison holds a certificate in CIT-Program Coordinator from Crisis Intervention Teams- International. Alison has a deep passion for meeting people where they are at and combining clinical strategies and innovative solutions to assist people in their journey.  At Arukah, Alison is part of the Crisis Team, provides support for the recovery support specialists, and is a behavioral therapist. As a behavioral therapist at Arukah, Alison is proficient at providing services to individuals with co-occurring disorders, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar, and adjustment disorders. Alison pulls from her own life experience and clinical education to develop a collaborative approach to authentically work with people on where they would like to go in their journey and how to get there.  Alison is open to collaborating and connecting with other individuals looking to create change in their life. 

Rachel Dose

Behavior Health Therapist

Ms. Dose holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, working towards a Master of Science in Counseling/Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Ms. Dose is also a certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, having assisted clients with creating and maintaining long-term lifestyle changes. Identifying as a “Health at Every Size” (HAES) clinician, Ms. Dose is passionate about helping clients recover from eating disorders and body image issues. She endorses the practice of discovery of self-compassion, food freedom, and body appreciation. She also enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced sexual trauma and chronic illness. Ms. Dose is a practicing clinician for 2+ years. She is committed to establishing a safe and nurturing environment for everyone she works with. 

Jen Matthews

Human Resources & Accounting

Ms. Matthews has a Certificate in Accounting with an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Illinois Valley Community College. Prior to joining the Arukah team, Ms. Matthews has worked at Central Bank Illinois for the last 11 years in the community as a personal banker. Ms. Matthews has a passion for mental health awareness. Since experiencing the Mind-Body Therapy program through Arukah, she knew she was being called to make a difference in her community. Ms. Matthews is excited to utilize her finance and business backgrounds to serve through Arukah. 

Erin Berlinski

Revenue Cycle Manager

Erin Berlinski has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration from Bradley University. She comes to Arukah from OSF bringing her knowledge and experience working with EMRs and working closely with patients and their benefits. She will be Arukah’s Revenue Cycle Manager, building the billing processes that will better streamline methods within the organization to help gain revenue. Not originally from Princeton, Erin, her husband, Andy and her 3 kids, Rockne, Koby and Jersey have grown to love the community and what is has to offer. She enjoys traveling, hanging out with family and friends, visiting the local shops and being present in all the activities her kids are involved in. 

Jake Reinhardt

Data Coordinator

Jake is a recent graduate of North Park University in Chicago, Illinois where he received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a deep interest in anatomy, physiology, and biophysics. Raised in Princeton, he wishes to serve the community with the skills he has obtained thus far before continuing education in medicine. Jake has a background in working with hospital databases and being involved with patient care. He enjoys analyzing numbers and statistics, which is an important determinant in the care Arukah provides based on the community needs.  

Robbi Duckworth

Recovery Support Specialist

Ms. Duckworth joined our team as a Recovery Support Specialist/CADC. She has previous experience working with the ACT team providing intensive outpatient care to individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance misuse disorders at the Human Service Center in Peoria, IL. She is a graduate of the DACT program at ICC in Peoria, IL.  She has 8 years of experience facilitating groups. She is passionate about continuing her education and training in Crisis intervention, Substance Misuse and Mental Health services. Ms. Duckworth is dedicated to working with individuals in continuation of fostering growth of personal development, expanding an instillation of hope for a successful future, defying the odds experienced by individuals experiencing substance misuse and mental health disorders. She is very passionate about establishing a warm and trusting environment to help individuals obtain new information and resources, express ideas productively and socialize knowledge in which provides an opportunity for the individual to find balance and take back control of their life. She is excited to be a part of a team dedicated to bridging the gap and contribute to the implementation of innovative approaches to reach individuals struggling with opioid or other drug addiction, and/or mental health.