April 11, 2023
Sarah Ford graduated from Columbia College in 2004 and was recently thrust into the public eye through the instant success of the podcast she co-hosts along with Mandy Powers Norrell, Palmetto Primetime. Their podcast was created as a result of the abundance of misinformation that was being circulated through mainstream media surrounding the Murdaugh investigation and trial. Because of her love of teaching and empowering adults through education on the U.S. justice system, Sarah decided to start answering questions on Twitter. She met Mandy Powers Norrell while she was doing the same. The two struck up a conversation and decided to team up for a Twitter Live session to answer questions in real time for anyone who was interested. When hundreds of people attended the session, the rest was history, and Palmetto Primetime was born. As a result of Palmetto Primetime’s fast success, Sarah has been featured on CNN and TMZ; she was even invited to sit in on a CNN panel with Jim Sciutto for live commentary during Alex Murdaugh’s sentencing. As Sarah and Mandy have settled into their success, Palmetto Primetime has become a platform for crime victims and a means to carry out social justice.
When asked what is next for Palmetto Primetime now that the Murdaugh investigation and trial have concluded, Sarah shared that the show will continue, offering a focus on crime victims and giving them a platform for their stories to be shared. Sarah and Mandy plan to invite South Carolina legislators to discuss topics like the prison system and the flow of legal proceedings, all in an effort for the general public to know, understand, and take ownership of the justice system. Sarah shared, “To some, these topics may seem mundane, but Mandy and I have discovered a way to educate our listeners on topics like these in an engaging way. Our core values have always focused on giving victims a platform. We’re planning to leave the focus there, and we’ll end up somewhere.”
On a typical day, Sarah serves as the Legal Director for the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, which offers victims in the state of South Carolina everything from financial assistance to faith-based support. She first discerned a passion for victims’ rights and advocacy during her time at Columbia College, where she studied Political Science and History. With incredible mentors like Dr. Ed Sharkey and Dr. Belinda Gergel (Columbia College class of 1972) as well as valuable experiences like serving as class president for multiple years and South Carolina Student Legislature, Sarah was able to explore her interests and learn experientially about the career path she would pursue. South Carolina Student Legislature allowed her the opportunity to write bills and legislation and then gave her the confidence to defend them in the chamber alongside sitting legislative leaders.
The mission of Columbia College is to prepare every student personally and professionally for success through liberal arts and professional programs emphasizing service, social justice, and leadership development. Sarah Ford took this mission literally as she chased her dreams after graduation, leading her to a career in victims’ advocacy and social justice. Through her many accomplishments, Sarah is a shining example of the Columbia College mission in action. As an institution, we are surrounded each day by students like Sarah with passions that lead them to their next chapters in life; it is an honor to even a small part in their stories as they journey beyond our gates and change the world.