Meet Our Team
The staff and instructors at Dark Horse Institute are each passionate about the creative and business sides of music, and about helping you succeed in your chosen field. All of our instructors are working professionals in the field, which means you will be learning the best and most relevant information in the music world.
Entertainment industry and education veteran, Tom Willett, brings a lifetime of experience to the leadership of Dark Horse Institute. As a musician, he toured and recorded extensively during the ‘60s and ‘70s, served as a booking agent and personal manager in Nashville for numerous artists in the ‘80s, and worked as an A&R executive and marketing VP at major labels in Los Angeles (Word/ABC; What?/A&M) and New York (Word/Epic/Sony Music) throughout the ‘90s. In 2001, he co-founded the Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard, a fully-accredited off-campus study program for college-aged musicians, audio engineers and music business executives. After relocating to Nashville in 2010, he served as an Adjunct Professor at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University before becoming President at Dark Horse Institute.
Cathy Baird has worked in the field of college admissions and operations for more than 14 years, including as Director of Enrollment of the Chef’s Academy at Harrison College, and Director of Admissions at Daymar College and Southwestern College, both in Kentucky. Baird holds degrees in Business Administration and Management from Volunteer State Community College and Triton College in Illinois. Driven by a desire to help students get on track with their educational goals, she was recently promoted from Institutional Director to Vice President of Academic Operations.
Dave graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Audio/ Electronic Arts before interning at Dark Horse Recording. In 2011 he became staff engineer and in addition to teaching Audio Engineering and Producing has recorded dozens of bands on Sony, Capitol, Gotee, and Tooth and Nail including Ashley Judd, OneRepublic, Relient K, Matthew West, Jeremy Camp and For King and Country.
Matt Sepanic has been professionally producing and recording for over 19 years. Sepanic has worked with such notable artists as World Under, If Ever Was a Fire, The Envy Corps, Decoy, Johnny Reeferseed, and Slipknot, including recording their Platinum album All Hope Is Gone. His work with many of the artists has been showcased in various movies and television shows. Matt is deeply versed in both Pro Tools and analog recording.
Jamie Nehasil brings decades of entertainment business experience to DHI students, having formerly served as Owner and President of Common Grounds Entertainment, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Black Fuel Music/220 Entertainment Group, and Director of Music and Marketing at Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group. Previous clients have included personalities at the highest levels in music, acting, modeling, publishing, politics and professional athletics. He holds the MBA from the Massey Graduate School of Business, and a BGS in Business Management and Marketing from the Univ. of Minnesota.
Austin holds Bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Music Business/Production from Birmingham-Southern College and Belmont University. He has a love for playing (and collecting) electric guitars, “fuzz” guitar-effect pedals, and loud Rock ‘n’ Roll music. He provides counseling and one-on-one career coaching to help connect Dark Horse Institute students and graduates with music industry jobs. He also oversees music industry affairs and heads our outreach to local high school students.
Kelly graduated from University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She has 20 years experience specializing in live concert event management and coordination, including managing key aspects of the Jonas Brothers Tour (over 50 cities) on the road in 2009. In addition to assisting Robin Crow, she also coordinates all scheduling at Dark Horse Recording.
Sam was born and raised on a small island called Jersey which is located between England and France. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 2016, Sam studied Popular Music and Sound Technology at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and spent the last 10 years working as a professional freelance Engineer in various studios across the U.K. He operated as house Engineer for Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan at his own private studio located in Jersey Channel Island as well as engineer at Mothership Studios for English Producer Ray Hedges. Other credits include Mercury Records, Sony BMG, ITV television, Syco Music, X Factor (UK), The Struts, Joe McElderry and Mauro Picotto.