Merri D. Howard was training to become a dental hygienist when a cousin asked her to be his assistant on a movie at Universal Studios. Deciding she didn't want to work with people's mouths anymore, she stayed in show business and found herself on the Paramount Pictures lot as a Second Assistant Director, on various TV shows such as MacGyver. When she learned that a position for First A.D. was open on Star Trek: The Next Generation in its second season (1988), she asked to interview for it, even though she knew nothing about Star Trek at the time. She got the job immediately, but then set out to quickly learn everything she could in a short amount of time about the world she just stepped into. After a year on TNG she moved up into the position of Unit Production Manager and later Line Producer. When that series wrapped and production on Star Trek: Voyager began, she moved to the new show as Producer. There her duties later expanded to Co-Supervising Producer and then Supervising Producer. After seven years, in April 2001, Voyager completed its run and Series V, Enterprise, took over, at which time Merri jumped aboard the new show retaining the title of Supervising Producer.

Her job is to oversee production of an entire episode from finished script to the end of shooting. She is responsible for bringing the episode to completion on time and on budget, and often has to make the hard calls to accomplish that, such as reducing the size of a set or eliminating special effect shots. Among her day-to-day tasks are hiring the directors, making sure the episode comes in at the right length, and handling problems as they arise.