Ford delivered a solid performance in the preliminary round of competition, and placed eighth among the top twelve semi-finalists who advanced to compete in the final night of the pageant. She was also the co-winner of the Miss Photogenic award.
Ford performed consistently during the pageant, placing among the top five in each of the interview, swimsuit and evening gown competitions: her strongest showing was in the evening gown competition where she ranked second. Overall, Ford finished first runner-up to Miss South Carolina USAShawn Weatherly, which gave her the right to assume the Miss USA title should Weatherly be unable to complete her reign. In July 1980, Weatherly won the Miss Universe contest, and Ford was crowned the new Miss USA in her stead. As the two competitions are allied, the two American beauties completed their respective reigns living in the same apartment in New York, provided as part of their prize package.
After passing on her crown to Kim Seelbrede in 1981, Ford went on to work in the entertainment industry. She joined KPNX 12 News in Phoenix in 1991 where she co-anchored 12 News Today and 12 News Midday. She is also a business owner, having purchased the oldest log lodge in Arizona, restoring it and opening it back up for business. Ford has won awards for Best New Business and Historic Preservation from the state.
She left anchoring full-time at KPNX on January 2, 2007 in order to spend more time with her family and to take care of her business.