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Spring was born in Plentywood, Montana. After an active youth, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with honors, earning a bachelor's degree in anthropology and psychology. She worked for many years as an activist devoted to causes such as disability rights, seniors, at-risk youth, poverty, the environment and animal rights. She used a wheelchair for much of her adult life due to rheumatoid arthritis.
Spring's successful candidacy for the Berkeley City Council in 1992 was a galvanizing event for the newly qualified Green Party of California. She served on the Alameda County Recycling Board from 1997 to 2001, including a stint as its president in 2001. She was elected to her fifth, and last, term to the Berkeley City Council in 2006 with 72% of votes cast. Her last act as a member of the city council was to seek medical attention for the tree sitters on the Berkeley oak grove controversy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Spring died in 2008, aged 55, at Alta Bates/Summit Hospital in Berkeley, after being diagnosed with pneumonia. In July 2008 filmmakers Lindsay Vurek and Valerie Trost released a documentary film about Dona Spring's life, Courage in Life & Politics - The Dona Spring Story.