Who we are.

Gotham is a creative, collaborative and committed mix of people with a shared passion for the power of storytelling and live events. Our eclectic backgrounds and experiences pull from all facets of the entertainment and events industry.

What we do.

Gotham Artists brings together people that move the world to create ideas and opportunities that change the world. We connect audiences worldwide with the great scientific minds changing how we live, political and the business leaders shaping our world, the inspirational storytellers reminding us anything is possible.

Why choose us.

Finding the perfect speaker or entertainment act can be challenging and time-consuming. Gotham Artists exists to streamline and simplify this process for you. We pride ourselves on our relationships with all of the major bureaus, agencies, musical entertainment, and independent speakers from around the world. Because of these relationships, the recommendations we provide are curated specifically for our clients with no other thought but of who is the best fit for you– regardless of their affiliation.

Don't just take our word for it

With more than 600 events every year including with Fortune 100 companies and the most prestigious universities in the country, we must be doing something right, at least according to these:

Meet the team

Whether you're booking talent for the first time or you're a seasoned event planner, it's ALWAYS good to know the people who are working for you! Our team is a creative, collaborative and committed mix of people with a shared passion for the power of storytelling and live events.

Alec Melman

Founding Partner

Alec was raised in Brooklyn, NY, long before it became cool (the 1980s). He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, the University of Maryland and New York Law School (and might also be an ordained minister via the internet). He is a member of the NY State Bar and is also a notary for some reason. He loves to ride his bike to work (and everywhere). He lives in Leonia, NJ with his wife, son and daughter. He'd like to add a dog to the mix but has been outvoted 3-1.

Daniel Ymar

Founding Partner

Daniel grew up in Rockville, Md. and earned his B.A. in Economics from New York University. His first experience in the entertainment industry was in the New York office of Endeavor Talent. After graduation he worked in the news production division at NBC before moving on to CNN's Politics Department. Daniel resides in Long Beach, NY with his 3 children and no dog. He likes to tell everyone that he surfs but they know the truth. Hanging out on the beach and playing music and lego (and wrestling of course!) with his kids are his favorite things to do.

Michael Gottesman

Senior Vice President

Born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Mike attended The Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire before venturing to New York where he received a B.A. from Hofstra University. During college, Mike became intrigued with the entertainment industry and interned at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., MTV Networks, and Sony BMG. After graduating, Mike moved to New York City and began pursuing his passion. He has worked for The Agency Group, Central Entertainment Group, Scott Rudin Productions, and Paradigm Talent Agency. Mike's interests include music, film, sports, politics, and travel. He currently resides in Washington D.C.

Laurie Barnett

Senior Vice President

Laurie Barnett was born in NYC. She is a veteran talent agent, manager and event producer with deep roots in the performing arts and the food and restaurant business. She became a lecture agent with the Royce Carlton Agency in 2001, and in 2011 she created a unique collaborative talent division with Zero Point Zero Production, Inc. Laurie is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and resides in Harlem.

Ivy Gustafson

Senior Vice President

A native Floridian, Ivy grew up in Tampa before heading north to Wake Forest University. After graduating with a B.S. in Business, Ivy moved to Washington, DC where in 2001 she began her career in the lecture industry. Ivy returned to Tampa - happily trading her snow boots for flip flops (every.single.day). When she and her two kiddos aren't paddle boarding and having fun in the sun (with sunscreen of course!), she can usually be found running, reading, or trying to figure out the next pose in her fledgling yoga practice.

Vana Thayu

Senior Vice President

Vana Thayu has been in the business of booking keynote and celebrity speakers for over 20 years and enjoys collaborating with clients to develop and execute the most inspiring and unforgettable events.  Coming to Gotham on the heels as a senior lecture agent at the Harry Walker Agency, and prior to that IMG Speakers, Vana has a wealth of experience representing and working with speakers from all walks of life ---world-renowned political luminaries, CEO’s, sports icons and much more.   Vana is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her B.A. in English and Film Studies, and she originally hails from Sugar Land, Texas, y’all!  After residing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for nearly 15 years, Vana now calls downtown Chicago home, and in her free time, she is an avid foodie, stays active on the museum donor circuit, loves traveling the world, and – in the glorious Chicago summer months – enjoys her backyard garden and boating on Lake Michigan.

Ben Anshutz

Senior Agent

Ben was born at a very young age in Newport Beach, California. Heading east for college, he double-majored in English and Music at Tufts University while also discovering that wearing sandals in the snow is a bad idea. Days after graduation, Ben moved to Brooklyn to pursue his passion for music and fell backwards into a career booking keynote speakers and entertainers– the happiest accident of his life.

Jim Oliver

Senior Agent

Jim grew up in sunny Virginia Beach, VA and graduated in 2008 from James Madison University with a degree in History and Philosophy. He moved to New York in 2010 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, landing a job in the mailroom at WME in 2012 and subsequently joining the WME lectures division - where he first got to know the Gotham Artists team. Jim then moved to Innovative Artists where for two years he helped build out Innovative’s personal appearance division in New York.

Samantha Conine

Director of Client Relations

Samantha was born and raised in Westchester, New York (which is not upstate). She received her B.S. in Film and Television from Boston University and worked in script development, casting and production before joining Gotham in 2012. At Gotham she puts all of these skills to use to make sure client and talent needs are met, always going the extra proverbial (and sometimes actual) mile for them. She lives in a constant state of happy chaos with her husband, son, and two Shiba Inu dogs.

Samantha Vanderhoof

Contracts Manager

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the Playground is where she spent most of her days... OK, she is not actually the Fresh Prince, but Sam Van could be considered the Queen of Contracts. After 13 years of denying bands their bowl of green M&Ms working at a music festival in Milwaukee, she made the epic move to Brooklyn to become the New Yorker that had always been in her heart, and found her way to the Gotham Artists family in March of 2019. After work you can usually find her catching a film at a local theater, sipping a craft beer at a brewery or shooting pool at a dive bar

Max Smilen


Max was born and raised in Long Island, New York. He received his B.S. in Music Industry Studies and Business Administration from Loyola University in New Orleans. While studying in New Orleans, Max was a professional musician and played all across the city of New Orleans. He brought his talents back to the city of Manhattan and gigs regularly with his band, Smilen. Max loves going to see live music whenever possible.

Kate DesRosier


Kate is a recent Washington DC transplant, originally from Seattle, and now she gets why they call her home state the "Other" Washington. While her addiction to black coffee and all things grunge (the music! the clothes!) are her birthright, it turns out she's an East Coast soul who was mistakenly born in the West. An extreme extrovert who loves people and building relationships, she fittingly has a master's in counseling psychology from Arizona State University (and lived through nine summers in the hellscape of Phoenix). Because she loves to read, she chose English lit for her bachelor's from University of Washington (Go Dawgs!). On weekends you can find her catching up on back issues of the New Yorker, going to rock shows, or taking a long walk around the District with her husband while their two cats wait patiently at home for their return to the couch.

Julie Patadia

Executive Assistant

Born and raised in New Jersey, or what is better referred to as the armpit of America, Julie made the short move to New York to attend college at Fordham University. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and music, she decided to continue her music studies at Juilliard in their evening division. When she's not at Gotham Artists attempting to be a jack of all trades, you can find her at local concerts, catching a movie, or reading in a park.
Gotham Artists

554 5th Ave. 6th Floor, New York, NY 10036