Donna Berlinger Mercier was born in Chicago at Grant Hospital and raised in north suburban Skokie, Illinois. When she was sixteen years old, she got a job with the Andy Frain usher service and worked for the company throughout college. At nineteen, she became an "usherette" at the Democratic National Convention and was assigned to stand in front of the main podium. Her role was to keep order on the floor, and she was the "benign front" that was to tell the appropriate undercover personnel if anything was going wrong. Throughout the entire convention, she was completely unaware of the riots going on in the city.