Each year, Specialists in Urology/Premiere Oncology publishes a keepsake album that features photos of its 300-plus employees and their families. Looking at the colorful portraits, two things are evident: Everyone is happy, and the staff represents a rainbow of cultures.

The diverse makeup of the company is of utmost importance to its founder, Dr. William Figlesthaler, who opened Specialists in Urology in 1997 and Premiere Oncology in 2009.

The practices have 15 facilities in Lee and Collier counties.

Part of his effort to assemble a multi-ethnic team is practical—it helps communicate with and provide comfort to patients of similar backgrounds. Moreover, it’s personal. “I was a single parent myself. I put myself through medical school and my residency,” says Figlesthaler, who serves as medical director and managing partner. “We have people from all walks of life. We train them in each position. We’ve seen so many people move up in the company, buying homes and cars.”

One popular program provides college scholarships for employees or their children. Currently, two $10,000 scholarships are given annually; to date, more than $100,000 have been awarded.

The company’s community involvement includes support of the American Cancer Society, the Shelter for Battered Women and the Boys & Girls Clubs. “It goes right to the very core of what we stand for.”

“[Figlesthaler] has always been firm about giving opportunity to those that may not receive it otherwise. He has always led the campaign with our management staff to foster and nurture all cultures, the less fortunate, single mothers, of all races and backgrounds,” says Chief Operating Officer Susan Scholz. “I have watched him literally change lives in the 12 years that I have worked with him, including mine.”

Figlesthaler extends his benevolence beyond U.S. borders, helping foreign doctors learn cancer treatments for less-fortunate patients. “I began traveling in South America,” says the father of three. “I saw poverty and need. I did cooperative work Bogota and Armani, Colombia.”

It was though those trips that he found himself lacking a crucial skill, which he needed here and abroad: the ability to speak Spanish. With the help of a friend from Bogota, he immersed himself in the language.

“I made it my goal to speak fluently so I could have a better understanding [of patients],” says Figlesthaler, who is now fluent. “The human condition is something that’s universal. If you do what I do and what we do here, [speaking the language] can show compassion and respect.”

– Phil Borchmann