Oaktree COO Daniel Tietz: Orchestrating Change in Social Services & Beyond

Marina Gallardo
March 20, 2024

Daniel Tietz, Chief Operating Officer at Oaktree Solutions, has worn several hats throughout his career. From caring for mentally ill patients as a nurse to earning a law degree and navigating the complexities of city government, his path has been driven by a singular mission: caring for others.

Can you take us back to your first job as a nurse in a Massachusetts Department of Mental Health? How did that experience influence your approach to your work?

My first position as a nurse started in the psychiatric unit of a public hospital in Massachusetts. The work was incredibly demanding, but I loved it, and especially appreciated the collaborative environment that required all employees to pay close attention to one another and work together. Working in this unit taught me the importance of empathy and seeing every patient as an individual.

Caring has been a constant theme in my life—from growing up on a dairy farm to my job as a nurse. It's why I've stayed in health, housing, and human services; it's where my heart is.

You later transitioned from nursing to law. What led to this shift, and how have you used both your nursing and legal background to advocate for others throughout your career?

While working in the psychiatric unit, I often interacted with various lawyers due to the nature of our patients' legal situations. I realized that a law degree offered me more meaningful ways to advocate for patients on a broader, systemic level. So I pursued that route.

My nursing experience was invaluable in giving me a unique voice and perspective when arguing for better laws and regulations in future positions I held. With my law degree in hand, I went back to work for the state health system in a staff position to the deputy commissioner for hospital operations, but this time realized I was only one of a handful who had firsthand experience in direct care with patients. This became a real value proposition – people came to me for counsel and realism, to find better ways of working without doing patients harm.

And what followed were various roles in non-profits and government.

You've navigated both government and non-profit worlds. What are the key differences you've observed?

In my experience, non-profits offer a faster pace and more direct, tangible impact. You see the immediate results of your actions, which can be incredibly motivating. Governments, on the other hand, can directly drive larger-scale change through policy and resource allocation, but the process can be slower and more complex. Both are crucial, and I believe the most effective solutions often come from collaboration between the two.

What is one moment in your career you are most proud of?

In 2015, I was serving as Chief Special Services Officer for what is now called the NYC Department of Social Services (DSS), the nation’s largest local public assistance and social services agency, which oversees the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

At the time, HRA and DHS were separate entities, which posed major challenges with resources and synergies in the work the city was doing on both fronts. While there, they merged the two to form DSS, and I was asked to be the admin through this integration, connecting public assistance with homeless services. This was a major endeavor, and one of the most demanding moments of my career, but we successfully integrated the two agencies. I’m really proud that we pulled it off.

What drew you to Oaktree Solutions, and what are you most excited about in your role?

I really believe in Frank Carone and the firm he is building. The team brings together an interesting range of public and private sector expertise, and I see this as an opportunity to build on my past professional work to amplify work on critical issues. I saw joining Oaktree as a truly new opportunity to serve and grow from where I came.