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.

Dark Horse Institute Tom Willett President
Tom Willett
President

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.

Dark Horse Institute Cathy Baird VP
Cathy Baird
VP of Academic Operations

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 Hagen
Instructor / Lead Engineer

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.

Steve Lamm
Instructor / Engineer

Grammy winning engineer of tobyMac’s “Alive and Transported”, Steve Lamm has more than 15 years of experience as an audio engineer, producer, musician, songwriter, studio owner, and instructor. Steve is credited for working with artists across many genres including tobyMac, Casting Crowns, Marty Stuart, and more!

Matt Sepanic
Instructor / Engineer

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.

Dark Horse Institute Jamie Nehashil Music Business Instructor
Jamie Nehasil
Music Business Instructor

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-bryan
Austin Bryan
Student Career Services

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.

Dark Horse Institute Admissions Representative Craig Freeman
Craig Freeman
Admissions Representative

Craig is a graduate of Alabama State University where he received a scholarship to play football, and Dark Horse Institute’s Music Business Program. As a former recruiter for major technology corporations, he developed a passion to help others explore, identify and achieve their full potential. With his move to Dark Horse Institute, he is now combining his skills as a career counselor and spoken word artist to guide students down the best path for achieving their dreams.

Christen Schaal
Christen Schaal
Admissions Representative

Christen worked in college admissions in the Chicago area before relocating to Nashville. As an Admissions Rep, she blends her love of music with her passion for helping students fulfill their dreams. When not in the office, Christen can be found hanging out with her dogs, songwriting or writing her screenplay.

Kelly Robinson
Studio Manager and Assistant to Robin Crow

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.

Justin Todd
Justin Todd
Content & Video Marketing Specialist

Justin has written, directed, filmed and edited more than 50 promotional videos. His clients include musicians, audio professionals, major universities, business leaders and the travel industry. As Content Specialist, he has been involved in the creation of dozens of informational and instructional videos for Dark Horse Institute.