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.

Staff, Cathy Baird
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.
Cathy Baird
Staff, Cathy Baird

Cathy Baird


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.

Staff, Lynn Jones

Lynn Jones

Director of Admissions

Lynn Jones joins the Dark Horse Admissions team with over 20 years of college admissions experience. She holds a degree in liberal arts from Mount Ida College. The success of Lynn’s long-term career in Admissions is her consistently positive attitude, her unique gift of connecting with students, and her outstanding leadership skills. Lynn loves empowering people to pursue their educational and career goals. She is so proud of her many graduates working in their chosen fields today. Lynn is married to her lovely husband Cedric, and together they have five wonderful adult children and six grandchildren. Lynn enjoys music, motivational speaking, and reading.

Staff, Dave Hagen

Dave Hagen

Director of Education

Dave is a Grammy winning Producer/Engineer who has been with Dark Horse for over a decade. He has been writing and teaching the Audio Engineering curriculum since the dawn of DHI, while also Head Engineer at our studio. Dave started out working on records with rock artists like Relient K. He has gone on to work with diverse artists across the industry including Keb Mo’, OneRepublic, Carrie Underwood, RED, Reba McEntire, Foghat, Chris Tomlin, Ashley Judd, and many more! Dave has moved into the Director of Education role to help keep our programs and facilities fresh in an ever changing industry.

Staff, Jason Hollis

Jason Hollis

Student Career Services

Jason Hollis is a music and entertainment industry veteran, having served in various capacities over the last 30 years; playing with recording artists and bands in many different genres as a singer-songwriter, touring, and session musician from the 1980’s to the present. On the entertainment and music business side of things, he has worked in film, video production, television, radio broadcasting, record labels, radio promotions, marketing, booking, national print media magazines such as Billboard Directories and Musician Magazine, music distribution Sales/A&R everyone from EMICMG, Diamante Media Group, Crossroads Music Distribution to creating and launching Infinity Music Distribution. He has signed & worked with several Gold and Platinum selling artists/labels like Lecrae, Stryper, Tamela Mann, Tonex, P.O.D., and MXPX, just to name a few. I’m not just in the music business because it’s “cool” or I’m not just a musician to “be seen” not at all; My heart is to seriously take the knowledge of everything that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of in my life and give it away to others.

Kris Gaustad

Accounts Receivable Specialist

In 2013, Kris relocated from Chicago where she spent several decades in various positions in the legal field. Most recently Kris was a Registrar and Office Manager at a not-for-profit in the Nashville area. When not at DHI, Kris enjoys spending time with her family on their 19-acre farm or enjoying all the sights and sounds Nashville has to offer.

Staff, Michelle Hilton

Michelle Hilton


Michelle attended the University of Florida before setting down roots in Nashville. For over a decade she has been managing the finances for many of Nashville’s biggest stars. When she’s not at DHI keeping the books, she’s hanging out on her farm with her thoroughbred horses.

Eric galvan

Senior Admissions Advisor

Hailing from Chicago, IL, Eric relocated to Nashville in 2012 and has worked for notable companies such as Concord Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and the Ryman Auditorium. In 2020, Eric founded Galván Talent Enterprises, LLC., a talent curation, consultation, and development firm. He is also a board member of the “Nashville Is Not Just Country Music” program initiative, promoting Nashville’s diverse music scene. He earned his BA from Belmont University in 2016. His background is testament to his drive for cultivating students, aspiring artists and producers breaking into the industry.

Abigail Evens

Admissions Advisor

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Abigail holds a BFA from Belmont University and has lived in the Nashville area since 2014. Abigail is a singer, musician, songwriter, and trained actor. She plays multiple instruments and has a home studio where she produces a lot of her own work. Music is her biggest passion in life, and she loves any opportunity she gets to speak with people who share her passions and to help guide them towards their dreams and goals. Professionally, Abigail has experience working in an academic setting along with customer service, sales, and management experience. She is extremely excited to be joining the Dark Horse family, and is looking forward to meeting students and helping their dreams become reality.

Celeste wisniewski

Admission Advisor

Celeste Wisniewski is from Charlotte, NC and has a degree in Education. Prior to joining the Dark Admissions team, Celeste has worked as an educator in the public school system for nearly 15 years. With her passion for music and education, Celeste joins the Dark Horse family with excellent resources to collaborate with students as they forge their career path in the music industry.

Mike Knapp

Admissions Advisor

Mike grew up in Virginia Beach VA, and started playing the guitar when he was 16. He later became a professional musician on the East Coast playing every genre of music from Gospel, Heavy Metal, Jazz, and whatever else came his way. After touring the east coast, Mike moved to Nashville in January 2021 to expand his horizons and make new connections. He is passionate about helping people to learn and experience music. This passion along with his experience in human relations, academia, and the music industry, gives him the tools to help you create your own musical journey!

Thom Cadley

Instructor / Engineer

Thom Cadley is a TEC Award winning and Emmy-nominated mixer with an amazing list of credits. He’s been involved in countless projects ranging from recording for Joan Jett back in the 80’s to remixing numerous Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child projects in surround, to mixing a live Sting album with a full orchestra. As the chief mixing engineer at the illustrious Sony Music Studios in NYC from 1993 to 2007, Thom oversaw the audio for Sessions at West 54th for PBS, VH-1’s Storytellers and many other live broadcast events. After 9/11, he co-produced and co-mixed The Concert For New York City. Thom has also engineered Broadway cast albums such as Disney’s The Lion King, as well as numerous film soundtracks such as the Goya Award winning Calle 54 (Spanish Oscar for Best Sound). After Sony closed Thom was one of the primary music mixers for the innovative Rock Band and Guitar Hero video games. Artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, Idina Menzel, Bruno Mars, Aerosmith, David Bowie, Lil Nas X and Billy Joel have all utilized Thom’s skill as an engineer and mixer. Thom took a short break from his hectic mixing schedule a few years back to get his BS in The Arts from SUNY Empire State College (Summa Cum Laude). Now based out of Nashville, Thom has returned to work as both a teacher and a mixer specializing in reimagining songs for release in immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and Sony 360RA.

Staff, Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie

Instructor / Engineer

During Dennis’s diverse career he has created charting hits in Pop, Rock, Country, Gospel, Blues, and Bluegrass as well as commercial music for radio, network television, and movies. His Grammy-nominated skillset runs from studio design to final mastering. A small sampling of his credits include Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Charlie Daniels, Michael Martin Murphy, Ricky Scaggs, Tanya Tucker, Delbert McClinton, and New Grass Revival.

Elliott Sabbagh

Instructor / Engineer

Ell is an American DJ, record producer, audio engineer, and radio host who works with artists and clients from around the globe. He is best known for performing in concerts and tours in the U.S. and Europe with acts including Afroman, ASAP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., Big Sean’s Finally Famous, Cam’ron, Curren$y, J. Cole, Joey Bada$$, Juicy J, KRS-One, Logic, Machine Gun Kelly, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, Twista, Wale, and Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang, amongst others. He has also been a featured performer at events for MTV, Red Bull, United States Secretary of Labor and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the United States Armed Forces, Vans, and festivals including Fallas (Spain), Imaginarium (Spain), and Warped Tour (U.S.). From 2008 to 2021, Ell served as the co-host of the "Prop Shop", the longest-running Hip-Hop radio show in the U.S. since 1988, on WCBN-FM Ann Arbor. Ell has worked with a diverse range of artists and media outlets. His engineering and production portfolio includes Crooked Media, ESPN, HBO ‘Problem Areas’, BBC ’Blue Planet’, RCA Records, the New England Patriots, Patrice Rushen, Jamey Haddad, Sammy Adams, Sony Music, Young Money, and more. Additionally, Ell has mixed live events for Cam’ron, Comedy Central, Cordae, Dreamville, Earthgang, Ganja White Night, Jay Electronica, J.I.D., KRS-One, Medasin, Shigeto, and 24kGoldn. Having earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Berklee College of Music in Music Business Management and Music Production, Technology, and Innovation, he enjoys teaching many of those skills to the next generation of artists.

Staff, Rob Tate

Rob Tate

Instructor / Engineer

Since 2015, Rob Tate has served as artist mentor for The Objective; an annual artist-centric event. He was mentored by the late Bernard Terry (Ready for the World, MC Breed, Mary Davis [SOS Band]), Brian Hardin (Daily Audio Bible, Phil Keaggy), and the legendary Alan Shacklock (Roger Daltrey [The Who]), Jeff Beck, Phil Keaggy, Sir George Martin, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Meatloaf, The Alarm). Once in Nashville, Rob was FOH engineer for CCM super group Audio Adrenaline. He went on to do FOH for East to West (Jay DeMarcus), Clay Crosse, Eric Champion and Guardian. Later, he teamed with Brian Hardin and Jay DeMarcus to start a recording studio in the mid-90's. During that time, he was also the house audio engineer for Michael W. Smith's 'Rocketown'. Additional work has been with Mark Slaughter (of Slaughter), Matty Mullins (of Memphis May Fire), Derek Minor, Scott Bernard (of Kenny Loggins), Greg Hagan (of LeAnn Rimes), Quinton Gibson (of Darius Rucker), Jon Knox (of White Heart, Rage Against The Machine, No Doubt), Anthony Sallee (of White Heart, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith), Dango Cellan (of Scott Stapp [Creed], Kurt Deimer, Amber Pacific), Jeremy Holderfield (of Seventh Day Slumber), Lukas Rossi (of Rock Star Supernova, Queensryche), Assiria Nascimento (wife of legendary soccer star, Pele) and many others. A Pro Tools user since the late 90's, Rob also makes use of Sound Radix and Magix softare on many projects and is highly-versed in the Windows PC audio world. Rob's passion is to help artists navigate the potholes of an ever-changing arts & entertainment landscape.

Staff, P.G. Banker

P.G. Banker

Composition & Songwriting Instructor

P.G. Banker is a songwriter, producer and audio engineer originally from Nashville, Tennessee. He studied music composition at King's College in London, England and received a Bachelor's Degree in Music & English Literature from Boston College in 2003. With over 1,000 placements on more than 100 different TV shows, P.G.'s compositions have been licensed on networks such as Fox Sports, CBS, NFL Network, CNBC, MTV, VH1 and Bravo among others. P.G. is passionate about writing music and inspiring others to create their own success!

John Lucasey

Online Music Business Instructor

John is an accomplished music industry veteran with a record of building successful entertainment businesses. John founded Studio 880, one of California’s largest premier recording facilities and was host to several grammy-winning recording artists such as Green Day, The Killers, Keith Urban, The Black Keys and many more. John was also the Director of Audio Production and Mix Engineer for Soundcheck, Walmart's original online performance series, working with and mixing artists such as Beyonce, Faith Hill, Drake, Brad Paisley, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and many more prominent recording artists. John also evaluated new talent for "Risers" Walmart’s program for upcoming artists, including MGMT and Neon Trees. John is a partner in Lucasey Getter Creative Management, a Nashville-based artist management company seeking to advocate and develop undiscovered talent using an equitable business model. John enjoys playing music, listening to podcasts and spending time with his wife Carolyn and their five adult kids.

David Mullen

Music Business Instructor

David Mullen is a critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer who has garnered 22 number one songs, produced multiple platinum and gold records with millions of sales in multiple genres. Starting out as an artist on Warner Brothers, Mullen has gone on to develop talent, write and publish songs, and produce for every major label. He’s had multiple nominations and wins for GMA Awards, Grammies, won the prestigious NSAI Song of the Year Award twice, as well as ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year.

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