College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
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George Mason University

Sunny Harris Rome, MSW, JD


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Sunny Harris Rome is a Professor in the Department of Social Work. She has previously served as the Department’s BSW Program Director, MSW Program Director, and Chair. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked as a litigator for the U.S. Department of Education and as a lobbyist for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She teaches courses on social policy, legislative advocacy, social work and the law, forensic social work practice, and community change. She is the 2011 recipient of the College of Health & Human Service’s Master Teacher Award for Senior Faculty, and was named Virginia Social Work Educator of the Year in 2012.

Professor Rome’s research interests focus on the intersection of social work and law, specifically in the areas of child welfare and immigration. She is the author of Social Work and Law: Judicial Policy & Forensic Practice, and serves on the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Policy Practice, The Journal of Teaching in Social Work, and the Journal of Social Work Education. She is a frequent presenter at professional conferences.  

Professor Rome is a tireless advocate for social work involvement in policy practice. She is an originator of the Policy Practice Forum, Policy Conference 2.0, and the Policy Teaching Institute. She holds leadership roles with Influencing Social Policy (ISP), the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work, CSWE’s Social Welfare Policy and Policy Practice Track, and the Coalition for Policy Education & Practice in Social Work. She is the lead Policy author of CSWE’s Specialized Curriculum Guide for Macro Practice, due to be published in 2018. Past professional and community service also includes NASW’s Legal Defense Fund Board of Trustees, Virginia NASW’s Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE) Board of Directors, the Governor’s Work Group on Therapeutic Foster Care, and Fairfax County’s Community Action Advisory Board.

University Service

  • Provost’s Health Commission
  • University Honors College Faculty Advisory Committee

Community Service

  • President, Influencing Social Policy (ISP)
  • Commissioner, Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work
  • Chair, Social Welfare Policy & Policy Practice Track, CSWE
  • Steering Committee & Policy Lead, Curriculum Specialization Guide for Macro Practice
  • Planning Committee, Policy Conference 2.0
  • Policy Curriculum Workgroup, Coalition for Policy Education & Practice in Social Work
  • National Workgroup on Licensing & Macro Practice


JD, , Georgetown University Law Center (1984)

MSW, Social Work, University of Michigan (1978)

BA Magna Cum Laude, Psychology, Occidental College, Phi Beta Kappa (1976)


Research Interests

  • Social policy, legal studies, and advocacy
  • Child welfare and immigration

Journal Articles

Rome, S.H. & Raskin, M. (2017). Transitioning out of foster care: The first twelve months. Online First: Youth and Society

Rome, S.H., Blome, W.W., & Raskin, M. (2011). An examination of foster parent unionization: The Washington State experience. Journal of Community Practice, 19(3), 292-307.

Rome, S.H. & Hoechsttetter, S. (2010). Social work and civic engagement: The political participation of professional social workers. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 37(3), 107-129.

Rome, S.H. (2010). Promoting family integrity: The Child Citizen Protection Act and its implications for public child welfare. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 4(3), 245-262.

Rome, S.H., Hoechstetter, S., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2010). Pushing the envelope: Empowering clients through political action. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3-4), 201-219.

Rome, S.H. (2008). Untangling the web: Immigration law and child welfare practice. Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal, 12(1), 14-22.

Rome, S.H. & Polowy, C.I. (2008). The Supreme Court shuffle: What it means for social work. Journal of Policy Practice, 7(2/3), 155-177.

Rome, S.H. (2003). Serving high-risk children: Recruiting through student loan forgiveness. Children and Youth Services Review 25(10), 805-821.

Rome, S.H. & Slaght, E. (1999). Welfare reform and the future of foster care. Social Thought, 19(2), 21-36.

Zlotnik, J.L., Rome, S.H., & DePanfilis, D. (Eds.) (1998). Educating for child welfare practice: A compendium of exemplary syllabi. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Rome, S.H. (1997 The child welfare choice: An analysis of social work students’ career plans. The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 3(1), 31-48.

Rome, S.H. (1997). Shaping policy: Tools for the citizen lobbyist. Treatment Today, 9(3), 44-45.

Harris (Rome), S. (1990). Social services in the states: State profiles on the use of federal Title XX Social Services Block Grant funds. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Harris (Rome), S. (1989). A social worker's guide to the Family Support Act of 1988. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Harris (Rome), S. (1987). Investing in independence across the generations: The Title XX Social Services Block Grant. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Brown, M., Downie, M., Greene, R., Harris (Rome), S., Howard, J.D., Nagle, K., Ridge, R.J., & Rusk, M. (1983, Fall). White-collar crime: Survey of law--1983 update. The American Criminal Law Review, 21, 181-256.

Harris (Rome), S. (1981). Case management: State of the art. Washington, DC: National Conference on Social Welfare.


Rome, S.H. (2013). Social Work and Law: Judicial Policy and Forensic Practice. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Book Chapters

Rome, S.H. & Kiser, S. (2016). Lobbying. Encyclopedia of social work. NASW Press & Oxford University Press. Online at

Rome, S.H. (2012). Helping social workers help clients: Student loan forgiveness. In E.F. Hoffler and E.J. Clark (Eds.), Social Work Matters: The Power of Linking Policy and Practice. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Rome, S.H. (2009). Value inventory for policy advocacy. In E.P Congress, P.N. Black, & K. Strom-Gottfried (Eds.), Teaching Social Work Values and Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Rome, S.H. (2008). Forensic social work. In T. Mizrahi and L. Davis (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Work (20th Ed.). Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

Rome, S.H. & Slaght, E. (1999). Welfare reform and the future of foster care. In J.J. Stretch, M. Bartlett, W.J. Hutchison, S.A. Taylor, & J. Wilson (Eds.), Raising Our Children Out of Poverty. New York: The Haworth Press.

Hare, I. & Rome, S.H. (1998). The social, psychological, and economic world of school social work. In R. Constable, J.P. Flynn, and S. McDonald (Eds.), School Social Work: Practice and Research Perspectives (4th Ed.), Chicago: Lyceum Books, Inc.

Rome, S.H. (1998). Social work and the law. In J.L. Zlotnik, S.H. Rome, and D. DePanifilis (Eds.) Educating for child welfare practice: A compendium of exemplary syllabi. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Weismiller, T. & Rome, S.H. (1995). Social workers in politics. In Edwards, R. (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Social Work. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Rome, S.H. (1993). Improving our society through policy and planning. In Mental Health and Social Work Career Directory (pp. 127-135). Detroit: Visible Ink Press.


"Fund for Social Policy, Education & Practice, New York Community Trust" (on behalf of ISP). 2015-2017. $52,500.

"Examining the Evidence for a Mental Health Advantage among Immigrant Youth," Faculty Fellow, Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy, George Mason University. 2011-2012. $3,834.

"Aging Out of Foster Care: The Initial Transition Experience," GMU Office of the Provost and College of Health & Human Services. 2008. Role: Principal Investigator. $19,800.

"Undergraduate Research Award for Faculty," New Century College, George Mason University. 1998. $1,000

Honors & Awards

Social Work Educator of the Year, 2012, Virginia Social Work Education Consortium

Master Teacher Award, 2011, College of Health & Human Services, George Mason University

Faculty Fellow, 2011, Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy