A dynamic speaker and a financially savvy entrepreneur devoted to community service and philanthropy, Maria Shtabskaya inspires us in every way – making her the perfect honoree for this year’s JQ Inspiration Award.
Born in Russia, Maria came to the United States in 2004 alone, as a young Jewish gay woman with very few resources; English was her second language. “It wasn’t an easy road,” she said. “There’s a saying that has always inspired me: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’ As soon as I got my first job, I felt like the luckiest Russian in America. Everything I earned felt like a privilege, and for that I have always been grateful. Adjusting to a new culture was a challenge, and discovering my identity was a journey.”
Her hard work paid off. Within two years, Maria’s financial savvy saw her breaking records in the world of fashion retail, and she was quickly recruited to join financial services giant Morgan Stanley in Beverly Hills. Within just a few months, Maria was promoted three times, and now is a sought-after wealth management advisor.
As a Vice President at the company, she is a frequent guest speaker, educating and motivating members of the many organizations she serves.
“My colleagues have noted my perseverance in facing my obstacles and looking beyond my challenges,” she said. “I motivated myself to pursue my goals against all odds.”
Maria is active in the Russian and LGBTQ+ communities, and served as the Vice President of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce from 2012 until 2014. She also has been recognized for her work with KidSave, Cops For Causes, and the City of West
Hollywood, where she lives.
In 2017, the City of West Hollywood awarded Maria the Woman in Leadership Award. She has also been featured in The Los Angeles Independent News andThe Washington Post.
After attending a Friends of JQ reception for JQ and hearing people tell stories of how the organization had impacted them, she knew she wanted to become involved.
“JQ International opened up a new world for me, and through its wonderful members, the organization has helped foster a healthy Jewish identity for me and my peers.” She particularly believes that the transgender community “needs our help today more than ever. These individuals face difficult challenges and our support is very crucial at this time.”
For Maria, the Russian American and LGBTQ+ communities are two worlds that blend well. In her small hometown in Russia under communism, she reflected, “people don’t talk about their sexual identity. Being openly gay either doesn’t exist or is considered wrong. I never experienced the freedoms that I have today. My friends in Russia do not have the same cultural freedoms to truly express their identities. Their hopes and dreams for a more inclusive so
ciety may take longer to materialize, but their spirit and determination are as strong as mine.”
Living in an environment of freedom in Southern California inspires her to make a difference in this world, she said. “It’s important to create an environment where people can feel comfortable with whom they are, and that’s why the work of JQ International is so vital for our community.”
Maria views this award as a great honor. “As a part of my Jewish identity, I cherish the ancient Jewish axiom of Tikkun Olam, or healing the world, and JQ International gives me the opportunity to give back. I’m humbled by the award and look forward to inspiring others to support their community. I am very honored to be recognized by an organization I admire so much.”
We are honored to recognize Maria. It is inspirational leaders and role models like her who inspire us every day and make our work possible.
JQ Contributing Writer
Please join us on Sunday, April 15 as we show our appreciation to Maria and our honorees at this year’s JQ Awards Garden Brunch. Get your tickets now. Tickets and full details HERE!