Doreen Hagerty was born in 1935 in Newark, New Jersey. She grew up in the Roseville section of Newark and graduated from Barringer High School. Ms. Hagerty attended Douglass College and participated in a joint program in which she majored in Industrial Engineering at the College of Engineering. After graduating in 1957, Ms. Hagerty lived and worked in Connecticut, California and Nebraska, before eventually settling in Illinois. She earned a master's degree at Northwestern University. Ms. Hagerty enjoyed a career in management engineering in the health care industry.