Mayor Nutter announced yesterday that lawyer Rue Landau would serve as the next executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the agency that mediates community disputes and enforces civil-rights laws.

For the last 10 years, Landau has been a senior attorney in the housing unit at Community Legal Services, representing low-income tenants facing eviction.

She is a former cochair of the Liberty City Democratic Club, an influential political group promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes in the city's Democratic Party.

Landau and Nutter said they wanted to "revitalize" the commission, which has had a low profile.

"Clearly the Human Relations Commission can play a much more prominent role here in Philadelphia," Nutter said.

Landau will replace W. Nick Taliaferro, whom Nutter thanked for his years of service. Landau said she wanted the commission to adapt to changing civil-rights challenges, such as the targeting of low-income residents by unscrupulous mortgage companies.

She declined to offer an opinion on the commission's highest-profile case, which involves the "speak English" sign at Geno's Steaks. The commission ruled, 2-1, in March that the sign did not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance.

The nine-member commission was created in 1951. Nutter said yesterday that he would soon appoint a "significant" number of members but would retain its chairman, the Rev. James S. Allen Sr.

Contact staff writer Patrick Kerkstra at 215-854-2827 or pkerkstra@phillynews.com.