In 1996, APAWLI was founded by "Warrior Sisters" who wanted to address the challenges faced by AAPI women and to nurture trusteeship within our communities. 

The following “Warrior Sisters” each contributed $5,000 or more in 1996 to launch APAWLI and to promote leadership of AAPI women across the country: 

Martha Lee, Amelia Ashman MD, Donna Ikema Chancellor, Donna Fujimoto Cole, Eugene Daisy Liu, Gloria Caoile, Pheobe Eng, Ding-Wen Hsu, Janice Shimokubo, Patricia Tanaka, Fay Natsunage, Angela Oh, Virginia P'an, Connie Rath, Patricia Chang, Mila Glodova, Carol Hayashida, Kay Iwata, and Norma Wong 


In 2006, APAWLI changed its name to The Center for Asian Pacific American Women to reflect its broader scope and mission. 

The following charter members contributed a minimum of $1,000 to relaunch the organization and to continue the legacy of APAWLI's Warrior Sisters: 

Jocelyn Agarin (in memoriam), Peggy Nagae, Renee Okamura, Michelle Russo, Jean Sun Shaw, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, Norma Wong, Linda Yamauchi, Rosie Abriam Lee, and Cheryl Ka'uhane Lupenui